United Kingdom taxpayer-owned RBS reports first profit in a decade

Saturday, 24 Feb, 2018

That hasn't stopped the banks share price dropping in early trading as investors continue to take some profits on the best performing, in share prices terms, of the United Kingdom banks in the past 12 months, with the share price dropping to its lowest level this year.

Still 71 percent owned by the government, RBS is still facing potential fines from the US's Department of Justice following the sale of financial products that were linked to risky mortgages.

RBS added that it remained committed to restarting capital distributions when permitted, with resolution with the US DoJ being a key milestone to enable this, and expects a return on equity above 12% by 2020.

If it had, this would have resulted in the bank's 10th consecutive annual loss.

In 2013, Ross McEwan became chief executive, and he has turned the bank away from investment banking and towards UK High Street banking.

The bank did also resolve a number of "legacy" issues from the GFC in 2017 which included the wind up of its former Capital Resolution business, reached a settlement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FIHA) and the California Attorney General over mis-selling mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and resolved the 2008 shareholder litigation rights issue for which it paid out £200m in June a year ago.

The issue complicates United Kingdom government plans to start selling down its stake in RBS.

Meanwhile there was a warning that this year would see a hit to costs as RBS accelerates its transformation, ramping up restructuring charges by more than £1bn.

For the fourth quarter of 2017, the lender reported an operating loss of GBP583 million, narrowed from GBP4.06 billion in the same period a year ago.

In 2017, it beat its overall cost reduction target of £750m, taking out £810m overall.

RBS said it pays women about 37 per cent less than men on average, largely due to men holding more senior roles. The gap widened to 48 per cent at the division housing Barclays's corporate and investment bank.

Other organisations to have made such disclosures include U.S. investment banks like Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, as well as the Bank of England.

The CEO's pay fell in 2017 as a result of the bad publicity around the bank's brand image. In 2016, he was paid 3.7 million pounds.

Currently Royal Bank Scotland Group Plc (NYSE:RBS)'s shares owned by insiders are 68.6%, whereas shares owned by institutional owners are 0.5%.

The bank said its group bonus pool for 2017 was 342 million pounds, compared with 343 million the year before.

How does the bank perform on gender pay?

RBS's sales of toxic mortgage-backed securities in the USA is an example of historic misconduct that New Zealand-born McEwan has struggled resolve.