RBS loss slumps to $8.7 billion on conduct charges

Posted February 25, 2017

"Assuming we can conclude our issues on RMBS this year and resolve our residual State Aid obligations, we aim to have RBS back into profit in 2018 representing a significant step towards being able to start repaying United Kingdom taxpayers for their support".

RBS has reported an annual loss of £6.96bn for 2016 - a sharp fall the £1.98bn loss reported in the same period a year earlier.

"In 2016, provisions for litigation in the USA relating to mortgage-backed securities was the heaviest weight, costing the bank £3.1bn".

RBS has set aside £5.8 billion ($7.3 billion) to pay potential fines and legal costs.

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Ross McEwan, RBS's eternally hopeful chief executive, says better days are just around the corner.

RBS has already had a big boost this week after the majority taxpayer-owned bank confirmed on Monday that it has shelved plans to sell its Williams & Glyn chain, a move which could pave the way for resumed dividend payments in the future, although obstacles remain. It aims to reduce costs by £2 billion by 2020, including £750 million this year, which it said would require more job cuts and branch closures.

The future of its smaller arm, Williams & Glynn, also hangs in the balance after the Treasury announced that it meant to free RBS of its obligation to spin out those branches.

Across Europe, Germany's Dax was off 1.2% and the Cac 40 in France fell 0.9%.

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The bank said it expects 2017 to be its "final year of substantive legacy clean-up" with associated one-off costs, but expects to be profitable in 2018. We still have further to go.

To get the bank into profitability, Mr McEwan told the BBC that the bank needed to resolve its U.S. legal issues and the question of its Williams & Glyn unit, which lends to small and medium-sized businesses. "We were the fastest growing large bank in the United Kingdom past year, with £24bn of new lending into the economy supporting over a million businesses and homeowners", the chief executive added. There has certainly been a Groundhog Day feeling to the Royal Bank of Scotland's full year results for the last nine years.

Instead, RBS and the government have suggested the bank gives £750m - which the bank has set aside - towards initiatives created to boost competition in United Kingdom business banking.

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