- Royal Bank of Scotland returns to profitability for the first time in over a decade.
- The bank made an attributable profit of £752 million in 2017, the first since it was nationalised during the financial crisis.
- Despite a return to profitability, RBS still has numerous issues, including a potential fine from the US Department of Justice over the sale of mortgage-backed securities.
- RBS shares opened down over 4% amid fears of how big the fine could be.
LONDON – Royal Bank of Scotland, the partially state-owned lender, has announced its first full-year profit since being nationalised by the British government during the financial crisis.
The bank announced on Friday morning that it had an attributable profit of £752 million in the 2017 financial year, compared to a loss of just less than £7 billion in 2016.
RBS, which is 73% owned by the UK government, recorded an operating profit of around £2.23 billion, up from a loss of around £4.08 billion last year.
Beyond the headline profit, here are some of the key figures from the bank’s annual report:
- Adjusted operating profit – £4.82 billion (up from £3.67 billion last year).
- Basic earnings per share – 6.3 pence (up from a loss of 59.5 pence per share last year).
- Return on equity – 2.2% (up from a fall of 17.9%).
- Total assets – £738.1 billion (down from £798.7 billion).
Ross McEwan, the bank’s CEO, said: “This is a symbolic moment for this bank and a clear indication of the progress we continue to make in putting the past behind us, while at the same time investing to build a bank which delivers for both customers and shareholders.
“With many of our legacy issues behind us, the investment case for this bank is much clearer and the prospect of returning any excess capital to shareholders is getting closer.”
Despite a return to full-year profitability, the bank still faces challenging times, with the expectation that it will be hit with a substantial fine by the US Department of Justice over the historical sale of mortgage-backed securities.
“The number of legacy issues the bank faces has reduced,” RBS said in its results statement.
“However, we have one major legacy issue that we have yet to resolve which is with the US Department of Justice. The timing of the resolution of this issue is not in our control.”
Shares crashed over 4% at the open in London, with investors wary of just how large the fine could be. RBS made a £764 million provision for litigation and conduct costs in the fourth quarter, with £442 million set aside for the US DoJ case, and a further £175 put back for PPI claims.
Here’s the share price chart after a few minutes of morning trade:
RBS also responded to continuing scrutiny – particularly by the House of Commons’ Treasury Select Committee – over the treatment of its small business customers between 2008 and 2013.
“To those customers who did not receive the experience they should have done while in GRG we have apologised. We accept that we got a lot wrong in how we treated customers in GRG during the crisis,” RBS said.
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