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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

RBS logs £6-bn loss for scandal-hit 2012

AFP  London, February 28, 2013
First Published: 16:57 IST(28/2/2013) | Last Updated: 17:01 IST(28/2/2013)
State-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland said on Thursday that net losses ballooned to almost £6.0 billion in 2012, hit by compensation payouts, Libor rate-rigging fines and a vast accounting charge.
   
Losses after taxation widened to £5.97 billion ($9.05 billion, 6.89 billion euros) last year, compared with a shortfall of £1.997 billion in 2011, RBS revealed in a statement. It marked the bank's fifth successive annual net loss.
   
RBS took a huge accounting charge of £4.649 billion against the improving value of the group's own debt. That contrasted with a credit of £1.914 billion in 2011.
   
And the Edinburgh-based lender also set aside another ?450 million to cover compensation for mis-selling payment protection insurance, and £650 million for clients mis-sold interest rate hedging products.
   
RBS had already revealed earlier this month that it would pay fines totalling $612 million (453 million euros) to US and British regulators to settle allegations of Libor interest rate rigging.
   
Part-nationalised RBS added on Thursday that underlying operating profit excluding exceptional charges almost doubled to £3.462 billion, aided by deep cost-cutting and falling impairment charges.
   
And the group noted that its five-year restructuring plan would be mostly complete by the end of 2013, predicting it would therefore become a "cleaner" and better performing bank in 2014.
   
"RBS is four years into its recovery plan and good progress has been made. We are a much smaller, more focused and stronger bank. Our target is for 2013 to be the last big year of restructuring," said RBS chief executive Stephen Hester.
   
He added: "2012 saw landmark achievements for RBS. It was also a chastening year.
   
"Along with the rest of the banking industry we faced significant reputational challenges as we worked with regulators to put right past mistakes.
   
"We are determined to overcome the cultural and reputational baggage of pre-crisis times with the same focus we have applied to the financial clean-up from that era."
   
RBS also outlined plans to float part of its US arm Citizens and retreat further from investment banking in a bid to boost capital levels and prepare for its eventual return to the private sector.
   
"I think we are coming really closer to the point where we are a normal company again," Hester told BBC Radio Scotland.
   
"I hope we can be a really good company in due course and when privatisation is an option available to the government."
   
At the same time, the lender still paid out staff bonuses last year, despite ongoing public outrage over Britain's scandal-tainted banking sector.
   
RBS did however cut its bonus pool to£607 million, from £789 million in 2011, after recouping cash to pay its recent fines to settle allegations of Libor interest rate rigging.
  
Hester himself confirmed that he would be taking his bonus for the first time in four years.
   
When asked if he would be taking £780,000 in RBS shares next month, Hester told the BBC: "Yes, I am. Other people decided to award it to me. As you know it's the only bonus in four years I have taken.
   
"By the standards of other people doing this job that is something that the board clearly felt was merited."
   
The British government still owns 81% of RBS after it was bailed out at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008 with £45.5 billion of taxpayers' cash.
   
The group became the third bank to admit its part in the Libor affair after Barclays and UBS.
   
In Thursday morning trade following the latest results, RBS shares slid 2.13% to 339.4 pence on London's benchmark FTSE 100 index, which was up 0.19% at 6,337.96 points.
   
Royal Bank of Scotland was ravaged by its badly-timed consortium takeover of Dutch bank ABN Amro at the top of the market in 2007, just before the global financial crisis struck.
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