NatWest is in the early stages of studying a bid for wealth management firm Quilter, according to City sources.

A takeover would be the biggest for the British lender since the bank went into taxpayer ownership at the height of the financial crisis with a £46billion bailout.

Private equity firms including CVC, Bain Capital and BC Partners have also shown interest in the FTSE250 group in recent weeks, the sources said.

Quilter, with a value of £1.4billion, is said to be one of many wealth management firms that lack scale and investment to compete with larger players and banks.

Its shares are down a third this year to their lowest since it went public in 2018 following the break-up of its parent, financial services firm Old Mutual.

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