(Recasts with adjournment)
LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) pursued last-minute settlement talks with a group of investors on Monday to avoid a potentially embarrassing trial over allegations the lender misled them about a 2008 capital increase.
A successful settlement would save former RBS Chief Executive Fred Goodwin from facing scrutiny in the courts over his decision-making and leadership at the time the lender almost collapsed.
RBS has doubled its offer to the remaining claimants as it seeks to settle the case, two people close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.
The civil trial brought by thousands of RBS investors was due to open at the High Court in London on Monday but was adjourned for a day to allow the settlement talks to continue.
The plaintiffs allege former executives gave a misleading picture of the bank's financial health ahead of a 12 billion pound ($15.5 billion) cash call in 2008. Months after the cash call, RBS had to be rescued by the government with a 45.8 billion pound bailout.
RBS, which remains more than 70 percent state-owned, denies any wrongdoing over the 2008 rights issue and says its former bosses did not act illegally.
Jonathan Nash, a lawyer representing the claimants, appealed in court for an adjournment saying the two parties were in settlement talks and wanted longer to strike a deal.
"We are involved in settlement discussions and we are hopeful of making progress," Nash said.
The sources said RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan was directly involved in talks over the weekend and that the bank had offered more than 80 pence for each RBS share held, though it was not clear if any investors have accepted the offer.
A settlement at that price would cost RBS "in the tens of millions of pounds", a third source familiar with the matter said.
The bank has settled with 87 percent of the investors who originally brought the case but the others have so far rejected its offers and say they were determined to go to court.
By doubling the amount on offer, RBS is close to a sum the remaining investors would accept, one of the sources said, indicating that they might settle if RBS raises its offer to 100 pence per share.
That represents half of the 200 pence per share investors paid at the time of the rights issue.
The outstanding group represents about 9,000 retail shareholders and 20 institutional investors. The large investors include U.S. bank Wells Fargo, the Boeing pension fund, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and local British council pension funds.
RBS declined to comment on the settlement offer.
(Editing by David Goodman and David Clarke)