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RBS posts massive first-half loss

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Royal Bank of Scotland has reported a £2.04bn (€2.42bn) loss for the first half of the year after taking into account £1.3bn (€1.54bn) worth of PPI and other legal costs.

The British state-backed lender has put aside £450m (€534m) to cover payment protection insurance (PPI) claims after the Financial Conduct Authority extended the deadline to 2019 earlier this week.

RBS was also stung by £630m (€748m) in restructuring costs and a similar figure for litigation brought by shareholders linked to its bailout.

The bank has also abandoned plans to separate the Williams & Glyn branch network because of the complexities and costs associated with creating a new banking platform. However, RBS remains committed to selling Williams & Glyn, with Santander understood to be interested in picking it up.

Chief executive Ross McEwan said RBS is “well positioned” for a potential economic slowdown.

He said: “We are clearly in phase two of our strategy, where our focus is on drawing a line under many of the legacy issues that have plagued this bank, and transforming the core business so we can deliver consistent, sustainable profits and results for our shareholders and do great things for our customers.”

The bank’s core business reported a £1bn (€1.18bn) adjusted operating profit in the second quarter, rising to £2bn (€2.36bn) in the half-year.

“This progress is important because it means we are well positioned to support our customers through the challenges that an economic slowdown poses for the country,” Mr McEwan said.

The chief executive also appeared to address Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s warning that banks have “no excuse” to stop lending following the Bank’s decision to cut interest rates and launch a package of measures to support bank lending.

“We have been the fastest-growing large UK bank – with net lending into the UK economy higher than any other bank in the first half of the year. We are open for business, ready to lend, and ready to play our part in this new chapter for the country,” he said.

The half-year loss also reflects the impact of its £1.2bn (€1.42bn) payment to the Treasury to buy out a crucial part of its £45bn (€53bn) bailout.

For the second quarter, RBS’s loss was £1bn (€1.18bn), with the firm booking a €118m (£99.3m) provision linked to Irish tracker mortgages in the period.

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