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Royal Bank of Scotland says doubles quarterly net loss

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Britain's state-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland on Friday said net losses more than doubled in the first quarter owing to an exceptional payment back to the government.

[LONDON] Britain's state-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland on Friday said net losses more than doubled in the first quarter owing to an exceptional payment back to the government.

Losses after tax in the first three months of the year stood at £968 million (S$2 billion), which compared with a net loss of £459 million in the first quarter of 2015, RBS said in an earnings statement.

Pre-tax profits came in at £421 million, up from £37 million.

However the bottom-line net figure was hit by RBS having to pay the government almost £1.2 billion in order to allow the bank to begin paying dividends again.

"An attributable loss of £968 million included payment of the final Dividend Access Share (DAS) dividend of £1,193 million to the UK government," RBS said.

The Edinburgh-based lender remains around 73 per cent owned by the British government after it was saved with £45.5 billion of taxpayers' cash at the height of the 2008 global financial crisis - resulting in the world's biggest banking bailout.

The group, under the leadership of chief executive Ross McEwan, launched a massive overhaul in 2015 that slashed the bank's investment banking activities and axed thousands of jobs.

However it still managed to suffer its eighth straight annual loss last year, and in common with many other major banks, RBS has faced huge fines and compensation demands for its alleged role in the manipulation of foreign exchange market and Libor interest rates.

It has also had to set aside billions of pounds, along with other British lenders, to compensate customers mis-sold payment protection insurance on loans.

AFP