RBS doubles profit, hikes dividend, warns on Brexit

UPDATE 3 — Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said on Friday it made attributable full year profit of £1.6 billion in 2018, more than double what it made in 2017.

RBS also said it proposes to pay a final dividend of 3.5p, following the 2p interim dividend, and a special dividend of 7.5p, taking total dividend payments to shareholders in 2018 to £1.6 billion.

Around £1 billion of the total dividend payments will be paid to the UK taxpayer, which still owns the majority of the bank.

However, RBS CEO Ross McEwan warned that RBS could face a rise in bad loans from business failures due to economic uncertainty over Britain’s planned withdrawal from the European Union. 

McEwan told reporters: “The area where we have seen a slowdown is in the large corporates.

“They are pausing investment and waiting to see what the outcome on Brexit will be.”

On the 2018 results, McEwan said: “This is a good performance in the face of economic and political uncertainty, with bottom line profits more than doubled from the previous year.

“We are also announcing an intention to pay back more capital to shareholders and almost £1 billion is set to be returned to UK taxpayers for 2018.

“With strong capital and liquidity levels, we are well positioned to support the UK economy.

“Our total lending to business and commercial customers reached over £100 billion at the end of 2018.”