RBS sets cash aside for economic uncertainty pre-Brexit; shares fall 5 percent on third-quarter results

  • The bank posted a net profit of £448 million for the third quarter of 2018, below the £507 million expected by analysts, according to a bank-compiled average of their estimates, Reuters reported.
  • In the second quarter, the bank had announced it was going to start paying dividends to investors – for the first time in a decade.
Daniel Leal-Olivas | AFP | Getty Images

The Royal Bank of Scotland said on Friday that it has set aside, as an impairment provision, 100 million pounds ($128 million), in order to account for economic uncertainties - Brexit being the biggest concern for the British lender.

The bank reported lower-than-expected profit for the third quarter of this year on Friday, on the back of a "highly competitive market and an uncertain economic outlook."

As a result, RBS shares fell nearly 5 percent shortly after the market open in Europe.

The bank posted a net profit of £448 million for the third quarter of 2018, below the £507 million expected by analysts, according to a bank-compiled average of their estimates, Reuters reported.

The U.K. lender had reported £392 million in net profit for the third quarter of 2017.

Here are some of the key highlights for the quarter:

  • Litigation and conduct costs: £389 million versus £125 million in the third quarter of 2017
  • Operating expenses: £2.4 billion versus £2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2017
  • Common Equity Tier 1 ration: 16.7 percent versus 16.1 percent in the second quarter of this year

"This is a good performance, set against a highly competitive market and an uncertain economic outlook. We are growing lending in our target markets and are in a strong position to support the economy. We're aware there is much more work to do and are fully focused on improving for our customers," Ross McEwan, CEO of RBS said in a statement.

In the second quarter, the bank had announced it was going to start paying dividends to investors – for the first time in a decade.

The U.K. lender has been mired in a years-long legal saga with the DOJ over its selling of toxic mortgages in the U.S. in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis. The lengthy settlement agreement process has prevented the bank from providing dividends to its shareholders. In May, RBS agreed to pay a £3.6 billion ($4.9 billion) penalty to the DOJ to end the investigation.

The payout of the charge is expected to pave the way for the U.K. government to sell its 71 percent stake in the bank, which has been majority taxpayer-owned since its bailout in 2008.

Brexit

RBS confirmed over the summer its intention to move 150 staff members to the Netherlands to set up a new operation that will allow the lender to continue serving its European clients after Brexit.

In this quarter's results, RBS confirmed that it received approval from the Dutch authorities to settle their European headquarters in Amsterdam.

The bank's CEO also said on Friday that some banks had a call with Prime Minister Theresa May last week and received an "optimistic" signal regarding Brexit negotiations, Reuters reported. At the moment, the U.K. and the EU are still trying to hit a breakthrough over the Irish boarder, before the March deadline kicks in.