RBS Investment Bank's Loss Almost Doubles Amid Overhaul

  • Trading revenue declines amid `uncertain' market conditions
  • RBS chief McEwan is winding down parts of the division

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Britain’s largest taxpayer-owned lender, said the loss at its investment bank almost doubled as Chief Executive Officer Ross McEwan dismantles the division and scales back trading businesses amid lingering costs for litigation.

The lender’s corporate and institutional bank, or CIB, which houses the securities unit, posted a loss of 1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) for the third quarter, compared with a loss of 557 million pounds last year, Edinburgh-based RBS said in a statement Friday. The division lost 268 million pounds when costs tied to litigation and restructuring are excluded, compared with a profit of 21 million pounds last year. That was more than the 225-million-pound estimate of Chirantan Barua, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.

The division’s revenue fell by nearly half to 437 million pounds. McEwan, 58, has said there will be “significant” job losses as the investment bank is split into businesses the bank wants to keep and a “capital resolution” unit that will be wound down. He’s exiting 25 countries around the world, attempting to overturn seven straight annual losses and repay the biggest bailout received by any lender during the financial crisis.

The operating loss at the unit is “no surprise given the restructuring plan, with the expectation they will have total operating losses of 800 million pounds over the next 2 years,” Barua, who rates RBS outperform, said in a note to clients.

Assets at the CIB, including loans to clients, cash and securities, fell 16 percent during the quarter to 177.4 billion pounds as McEwan disposed of investments and shunted businesses into other parts of the bank. RBS announced the sale of a portfolio of 594 million pounds of loan commitments to China Construction Bank Corp. in September.

Income from trading products tied to currencies declined 30 percent to 96 million pounds in the quarter. Interest-rate trading revenue fell 14 percent to 172 million pounds, which reflected a “seasonal slow-down in client activity and uncertain market conditions,” the lender said. Income from credit trading tumbled 68 percent to 35 million pounds.

Revenue from RBS’s ongoing investment bank businesses slid 28 percent to 306 million pounds. That drop “was reasonable, given the massive restructuring undertaking,” Joseph Dickerson, a London-based analyst with Jefferies International Ltd. who has a buy rating on RBS shares, said in an e-mail. “The performance in rates was a reasonable result. Elsewhere, the business was impacted by restructuring and the exit from credit.”

The lender booked a charge of about 95 million pounds in the unit for the quarter tied to mortgage-backed securities litigation in the U.S.

UBS Group AG’s Ivan Jevremovic predicted a 417 million-pound operating loss. Mark Phin at Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc. had forecast a total loss of 1.3 billion pounds.

Chris Marks runs the division’s ongoing businesses, while Mark Bailie oversees assets the bank wishes to sell or wind down. The bank may cut as many as 14,000 jobs at the investment bank, a person familiar with the plan said in March.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE