Royal Bank of Scotland rebrands and hands special dividend to UK taxpayers

Royal Bank of Scotland rebrands and hands special dividend to UK taxpayers

The Royal Bank of Scotland is to undergo a rebrand in the first major decision by new chief executive Alison Rose, changing its name to NatWest plc.

Bosses said the move was because 80% of customers bank with the NatWest brand, rather than through RBS branches, adding that it will have no impact on customers or staff.

The decision comes as Ms Rose unveiled a 5p-a-share special dividend, although the full-year dividend was cut from 3.5p to 3p.

It means the bank’s biggest shareholder – the Government – will receive a payout of nearly £600 million.

With the interim dividend paid out earlier this year, it means the taxpayer has been handed £1.7 billion so far this year.

Making the payment is possible because the bank managed to hit an operating profit before tax of £4.2 billion – up 26% from £3.4 billion in 2018.

The results were boosted by the merger of Alawwal Bank and the Saudi British Bank, in which RBS had a stake, but was knocked by an extra £900 million in PPI payments.

Ms Rose, who was also making a speech to staff on Friday morning setting out her strategy, added: “These results are a reminder of the strong foundations we have built. Our profits are up, our capital position remains strong, and this year we will have returned a further £2.7 billion to our shareholders.

“But our performance doesn’t yet match the potential that exists in this bank. We can deliver so much more.”

She also announced cost cuts of £250 million, following the closure of 215 branches over the year.

The next step, according to Ms Rose, is to create a “purpose-led” bank, aligning executive pay with a range of targets linked to long-term bonuses.

The targets include creating 50,000 new businesses by 2023, helping to create 500,000 jobs. RBS added that this would include 75% jobs outside London, 60% women, 20% BAME and 10% “social purpose”.

Bosses also said they want to teach customers how to save and have a “climate positive” operation by 2025, with a halving the climate impact of financing activity.

RBS also wants to ensure 50% of its mortgage book is comprised of properties with an energy efficiency rating of at least C by 2030.

On the decision to change its name, chairman Howard Davies said: “The board has decided that it is the right time to align the parent name with the brand under which the great majority of our business is delivered.”

RBS remains keen to shake off its past, and this is the latest cosmetic change made by bosses to remove the stigma attached to the bank nearly collapsing during the financial crisis.

Eight years ago it also recalibrated the shares to make them look more impressive – jumping from 20p to 200p overnight, although the value of the shares remained the same.

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