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RBS sees first annual profit since 2007

25 February 2018

Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (LON:RBS) on Friday reported its first full year profit since the height of the financial crisis in 2008 as the bank slashed costs and tackled past misconduct.

The bank reported a profit attributable to ordinary shareholders of £752m in the year ending 31 December 2017, compared to a £6.96bn loss in 2016.

Chief executive Ross McEwan said the DoJ settlement was out of the bank's control but it could now begin to think about resuming dividends or buying back shares almost a decade on from its £45.5 billion state bailout during the financial crisis.

The DOJ issue weighs on RBS's share price and complicates the government's plan to sell down its 71 per cent stake.

"Our financial strength is much clearer", RBS CEO Ross McEwan said in a press release Friday, adding that "we still have more to do in cost reduction, however this reflects progress we have made in making the bank more efficient". One is the impending fine from the US Department of Justice, which is going to take a big slice out of the bank's 2018 profits.

News stories about Royal Bank of Scotland Group (NYSE:RBS) have been trending positive this week, according to Accern Sentiment Analysis.

The multi-billion pound Department of Justice case may be settled in 2018, though RBS stressed that it had no control over the timing of the resolution.

"That selling activity is going to put downward pressure on the bank's share price, so until it's materially completed, the market isn't going to get too excited about RBS".

The bank has charged ahead with its cost-cutting drive and restructuring plan, having cut expenses by £810m a year ago - exceeding its £750m target.

However, McEwan hailed the bank's restructuring into a "simpler, safer and more customer-focused bank". I have the conversations with our staff before I tell any media about that and I'm not changing this year.

"But you know we are digitalising the bank, that is what is happening globally in financial services".

McEwan, a New Zealander who has run RBS since 2013, later told reporters that he plans to stay at the bank until it has settled the USA case and resumed payouts, which would likely take the form of a small dividend initially.

RBS's annual report, published alongside the results, showed that McEwan's total pay package fell to £3.49m from £3.7m in 2016 following a decrease in his benefits and long-term incentives.

RBS sees first annual profit since 2007