Sharp fall in third quarter profits for Royal Bank of Scotland

File photo dated 14/02/15 of a woman walking past a set of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) cash machine

File photo dated 14/02/15 of a woman walking past a set of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) cash machines, as the tax-payer backed bank revealed third quarter pre-tax profits of £842 million, down more than half compared to the same period in 2014. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday October 30, 2015. See PA story CITY RBS. Photo credit should read: Laura Lean/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland has revealed a sharp fall in third-quarter profits.

Pre-tax profit before one-time items and restructuring costs came in at £842 million for the quarter, compared to £2.05 billion a year earlier.

The bank announced the sale of its final 20.9% stake in US bank Citizens worth £1.1 billion.

The bank, which is 73% owner by the taxpayer, revealed litigation costs of £129 million for the quarter, principally relating to mortgage-backed securities.

Income was down £596 million compared to Q3 last year, which the bank said was driven by a £394 million decline in Corporate & Institutional Banking.

“Income pressures were also seen in UK personal & business banking and commercial banking where good loan volume growth was offset by continued competitive pressure on asset margins.”

Elsewhere, there was continued growth in its mortgage lending, up 3.6% on the second quarter to £3.8 billion. It added that gross new mortgage lending was 42% up on a year ago, “representing a 12% market share of new lending against our stock market share of 8.5%”.

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In July the Government began the process of privatising RBS by selling a £2.1 billion stake in the bank - at a loss of more than £1 billion to the taxpayer.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, described today’s results as mixed, adding: “RBS continues to atone for past mistakes in a turnaround which is complicated, costly and protracted.

“There are some signs of cheer - the Citizens stake is now out of the way entirely, operating expenses and impairments are both moving in the right direction, whilst the capital cushion is healthy. In addition, even though it is no more than the thin end of the wedge, the Government has begun to reduce its stake, albeit leaving a hefty 73% interest.

“Less positively, restructuring costs remain very high, there has been pressure on the investment bank and personal divisions due to reshaping costs and margin pressure respectively, whilst a dividend payment remains a distant dream with the earliest date being the first quarter of 2017.

“In an interest rate environment such as this, the lack of any yield is another factor which has resulted in investors shunning the shares.”