RBS annual losses deepen to £7bn after mis-selling scandal

25 February, 2017, 00:40 | Author: Elaine Woods
  • RBS posts £7bn annual loss

"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".

Its net loss for 2016 came in at £6.95bn ($8.7bn, €8.2bn), up from a loss after tax of £1.98bn a year earlier, RBS said in a statement.

The Edinburgh-based lender said it had been severely hit by litigation and conduct costs of nearly 5.9 billion pounds, including over its issuance of United States mortgage-based securities and its role in the mis-selling of a UK insurance product.

The loss, the bank said, is caused by £10bn of one-off items, including £5.9bn for potential fines and legal costs.

"This is a strong core bank getting masked by all the sins of the past", Chief Executive Ross McEwan said on a conference call with reporters.

RBS has notched up losses of more than £50bn since the 2008 financial crash. 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 bank also intends to invest heavily in technology at its NatWest Markets business, replacing hundred of separate product databases with a single scalable platform.

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The chief executive had said the bulk of mis-selling cases would be settled in 2016, but the largest penalties from the USA over mis-selling toxic mortgages have yet to be resolved.

"RBS now expects that 2017 will be its final year of substantive legacy clean up with significant one-off costs", the lender said in the statement.

Instead, Mr. McEwan has instead opted for a leaner RBS, which involves consolidating the bank's business across its domestic retail and commercial units.

The solution, according to McEwan, is "going further on cost reduction and faster on digital transformation".

The European Union ordered RBS to sell the unit by the end of 2017 to address competition concerns, but past year RBS failed to sell the business to Santander and talks with Clydesdale Bank failed.

The bank's shares were trading 3.6% lower in London after its annual results were released. The bank's return on tangible equity (RoTE) for the year was negative 17.9%, worsened from a negative 4.7% return in 2015.

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