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Regional banks eye RBC's U.S. retail unit: report

U.S. banks BB&T Corp (BBT-N) and PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (PNC-N) are among the potential buyers of Royal Bank of Canada's (RY-T) struggling U.S. consumer banking business, according to a Bloomberg report on Thursday.

RBC's U.S. retail bank has lost money for 10 straight quarters and has generally been a drag on earnings since RBC purchased North Carolina-based Centura Bank in 2001 for $2.2 billion US ($3.5 billion Cdn at the time).

Royal Bank declined comment on the report on Thursday, but Chief Executive Gord Nixon said in January the bank was unsure whether it would eventually add to its U.S. retail banking business or retreat from it.

The unit, rebranded RBC Bank in 2008, was hit hard by the U.S. real estate collapse and waves of foreclosures.

U.S. regional banks including BB&T Corp. are increasingly looking to buy rivals as a way to boost revenue now that they have cleared up the worst of their credit problems.

Potential buyers for the RBC unit would likely need to be banks with growth ambitions in the same geographical area spanning six states in the U.S. Southeast.

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