RBS reveals Amsterdam Brexit hub plan as bank reports £939m half-year profit

Photo: David Cheskin/PA Wire

Photo: David Cheskin/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Royal Bank of Scotland has reported a half-year profit for the first time since 2014 as the lender outlined plans to use Amsterdam as a post-Brexit EU hub.

The bank, which is still 72% owned by the taxpayer, recorded a £939 million profit for the six months to June 30, which compares with a £2 billion loss in the same period last year.

Second-quarter profit came in at £680 million, representing the bank’s second consecutive quarter in the black.

RBS also revealed that it has begun contingency planning for Brexit by engaging with the Dutch central bank to use its existing banking licence in the Netherlands, which will see the lender employ 150 staff in Amsterdam.

“We have to be in a position to serve our customers,” chief executive Ross McEwan said.

The bank requires an EU passport to continue operating its NatWest Markets business across the bloc and is the latest financial firm to outline Brexit plans.

On the results, Mr McEwan signalled that the lender is moving on from its troubled past.

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He said: “We’re doing what we said we would at our full-year results in February - growing income, reducing cost and improving returns for shareholders, while also starting to deliver a better service for customers.

“We see the first six months of this year as proof of the investment case for this bank: our path to sustainable profitability is becoming clearer and closer and we have resolved some of the most significant issues this bank faced.”

First-half operating profit came in at £1.95 billion compared with a £274 million loss last year, while adjusted operating profit rose from £1.15 billion to £3 billion.

RBS shares were up more than 3% to 265p in morning trading.

However, RBS also disclosed that the City watchdog is undertaking an investigation into the bank in relation to money laundering, without giving further details.

RBS also detailed £342 million in second-quarter conduct and litigation costs and £213 million in restructuring charges.

When added to costs booked in the first quarter, it takes the total for the first half to more than £1 billion.

The group has racked up several billion in litigation and conduct costs since it was rescued by the Government at the height of the financial crisis.