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RBS bucks dire run of results as taxpayer-owned lender records first profit since 2015

The latest quarterly profit bucks a poor trend of recent results for RBS. Credit: PA

Taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland has reported its first quarterly profit since 2015 - a year after a loss of almost £1 billion during the same period.

The lender, which is 72% owned by the government, announced a £259 million profit in the first three months of the year.

£259m
Profit recorded by RBS in the first quarter of 2017.
£968m
Loss recorded by RBS in the first quarter of 2016.

Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted last week the government is prepared to sell its stake at a loss to the public purse.

Shares are currently trading at around half the £5.02 rate in 2008 when the government bought the 72% stake for £45 billion at the height of the financial crisis.

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan, seen with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said the lender has 'great potential'. Credit: PA

The latest quarterly profit bucks a poor trend of recent results for RBS, which has suffered staggering £58 billion of losses since being bailed out by the Government and last recorded a profit in the third quarter of 2015.

Friday's figures showed the core bank's adjusted operating profit also rose in the quarter, from £303 million to £1.3 billion, while RBS booked £577 million in restructuring costs.

In February, RBS reported a £7 billion annual loss and chief executive Ross McEwan ordered a £2 billion four-year cost-cutting drive, expected to result in significant job losses and branch closures.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the government is prepared to sell its RBS stake at a loss. Credit: PA

To this end, the bank took £278 million in costs out of the business in the period.

Responding to the positive quarterly results, Mr McEwan said: "These results reflect very much what we talked about at full year.

"This bank has a very strong core with great potential, and we believe that, by going further on cost reduction and faster on digital transformation, we will deliver a simpler, safer and even more customer-focused bank, with a compelling investment case."