Britain's state-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland held initial talks with Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group about the sale of US retail division RBS Citizens, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The WSJ, citing sources familiar with the discussions, added that executives from the two banks recently met to discuss a deal for RBS Citizens, which has almost 1,400 branches and $122 billion (88 billion euros) in assets. An RBS spokesman the bank remained focussed on launching an initial public offering (IPO) for the US retail banking business. “We announced in November 2013 that we would accelerate the IPO of Citizens, aiming to start the process in the second half of 2014 and to fully sell the business by the end of 2016. That is our plan,” he told AFP. Royal Bank of Scotland remains 81 percent owned by the British government after a vast bailout at the top of the global financial crisis.