LONDON – Royal Bank of Scotland has posted nine consecutive years of losses after the taxpayer-owned group set aside another 4 billion pounds ($5 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2016 to cover the costs of misconduct during the financial crisis and targeted a return to profitability in 2018.
RBS on Friday reported a fourth quarter net loss of 4.44 billion pounds, compared with a loss of 2.74 billion pounds in the same period a year earlier. That means the bank has racked up more than 50 billion pounds in losses since 2008, when the government rescued it from collapse with a 45 billion pound bailout.
"The bottom line loss we have reported today is, of course, disappointing but given the scale of the legacy issues we worked through in 2016, it should not come as a surprise," Chief Executive Ross McEwan said in a statement. "These costs are a stark reminder of what happens to a bank when things go wrong and you lose focus on the customer, as this bank did before the financial crisis."
Since its 2008 bailout, RBS has worked to refocus on the British market, shedding overseas operations, cutting costs and reducing its portfolio of risky assets.
The bank reported 1 billion pounds of restructuring expenses in the fourth quarter and said it would spend an additional 2 billion pounds on the effort over the next three years.
While RBS didn't mention job cuts, Britain's media have reported thousands of jobs could go in the coming months. The bank reduced its workforce by 15 percent last year to 77,800 employees, according to figures reported Friday.
The report comes after RBS abandoned plans to sell its Williams & Glyn unit, which includes branches in England and Wales, as well as operations serving small and mid-size businesses.
European Union competition regulators had ordered RBS to sell the business as a condition for accepting state aid, but the bank had struggled to find a buyer. Britain's Treasury has proposed an alternative under which RBS would help other banks move into the market for small business customers. The fourth-quarter restructuring costs included 750 million pounds to cover the costs of this plan.