RBS offers to buy back £5.2bn of debt

Royal Bank of Scotland announced plans on Wednesday to buy back £5.2 billion pounds ($7.5 billion) worth of bonds to lower its interest payments and meet regulatory requirements as it continues to shrink its operations around the world.

RBS shares rose 1.6%.

The buyback offer relates to debt denominated in euros, pounds and dollars, RBS said in two statements.

The deadline for accepting the offer is April 6.

RBS said the bond buyback offer is being made “with the intention of supporting the group’s ongoing transition to a holding company capital and term funding model in line with regulatory requirements.”

RBS was rescued in a state bailout during the global financial crisis and is still roughly 73% owned by the UK government.

Last week, RBS said it reached a milestone in its plan to resume dividends to shareholders when it repaid a final £1.193 billion to the UK Treasury to retire the “Dividend Access Share.”

The Dividend Access Share was issued in 2009 when the UK Treasury provided £25.5 billion of equity capital to RBS in exchange for B shares.

Last month, RBS reported a 2015 loss of £1.98 billion, compared with a loss of £3.47 billion in 2014, as litigation and restructuring costs continued to hurt the company’s finances.

Excluding the litigation, conduct, restructuring and other costs, RBS actually made pre-tax operating profit in 2015 of £4.4 billion compared to £6.1 billion in 2014.

The bank said last month that it still planned to return excess capital to shareholders through dividends or buybacks, subject to board and regulatory approval — but this would now happen later than many investors had hoped. 

It was the eighth successive full-year loss for RBS.

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.