Royal Bank of Scotland is planning to spin off its mergers and acquisitions business to some of its top bankers, sources said, forming a new advisory boutique with anticipated investment from foreign banks without a big footprint in Europe.

The bank, 82 percent owned by the British government, is exiting mergers and acquisitions as part of a restructuring announced in January.

Around 45 M&A bankers from RBS will join the new firm, people familiar with the matter said, but there is no set timescale for the launch, which will be managed carefully to protect live deals for existing clients.

(Reporting by Sophie Sassard and Victoria Howley; Editing by Sarah White)