Are the Canadians coming to buy parts of RBS?

Davide Serra carrying papers outside Downing Street. Photo: Steve Back

Potentially it is not just the new and very high profile Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, who is coming from Canada soon. Documents displayed by accident in Downing Street today suggest Canadians could also be interested in buying up parts of RBS.

Hedge fund manager Davide Serra was snapped in pictures given to ITV News carrying documents discussing just that possibility, talking about how RBS could be made "more Canadian", how the bank is "structurally attractive", despite its very different levels of profitability to "TD, RBC and BMO" - that is Toronto Dominion, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montreal to you and me.

Davide Serra outside Downing Street. Credit: Steve Back

Downing Street sources say the meeting Serra was attending was just routine, with an official rather than a minister in Number 10 or Number 11.

Yet it is feasible that Canada might form part of the solution for the bank that we own. RBS has considered selling off Citizens, or at least part of it, the bank based in North America, and there is therefore, interest from Canada.

Trader Rupert Armitage of Shore Capital told me:

RBS are trying to clean up the assets which they have which are not based in the UK, international assets principally and citizens falls into that category.

It’s a North American financial institution which they have previously said they were interested in selling a stake in.

The Canadians know that it’s on the table and there’s a negotiation to be had.

The flash of these documents illustrates precisely that this is a possibility.

Even though any move might not happen fast, any potential deal could affect when we get our cash back from the bank we bailed out. And the revelation comes at a time when speculation about the state backed banks is feverish.

The Chancelllor, George Osborne, gives his Mansion House speech next week when he is expected to give broad hints about how he plans to get RBS and Lloyds back into private hands.

The Chancellor making his Mansion House speech last year Credit: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire

I understand the most likely first move is selling off around 10 percent of Lloyds to the market, although Osborne is unlikely to be quite as explicit as that next week. Officials and Lloyds have been working on that plan, although they are looking at other scenarios too.

Meanwhile, chief executives and the Bank of England have been in intense negotiations about just how safe they are, after the Bank identified a black hole in their balance sheets of up to 25 billion pounds. Most of the gaps are thought to be at Lloyds and RBS but there are issues elsewhere too. I'm told the banks had been given until the middle of this week to come up with their solutions, but that deadline could well slip.

And at the same time, politicians on the Banking Commission are busy thrashing out their final report that will recommend how the industry should be cleaned up, and discussing whether or not they will come down in favour of splitting up RBS.

It is nearly five years ago that we first begun to understand the extent of problems in our enormous financial sector. But despite all of this activity its problems are still a long way from being solved.