NatWest Group is the new name adopted in 2020 for what was formerly RBS. The name change marked the culmination of more than a decade that the group spent digging itself back out of the hole into which it collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis. The Royal Bank of Scotland first took a quantum leap into the upper ranks of the global industry in 2000 with the hostile takeover of UK consumer bank NatWest. The success of the NatWest takeover prompted RBS's then-CEO Fred Goodwin to embark on a string of ever larger acquisitions which were ultimately to prove disastrous. The crunch came in 2007 with an attempt to acquire Dutch banking giant ABN Amro. That absurdly ambitious takeover was one deal too many for RBS. The credit crisis which reached a climax the following year pushed the already over-extended group to the brink of bankruptcy, and it was saved only by its takeover by the British government. In 2009 it announced a programme to sell off many of the assets it acquired over the previous five years and refocus on core activities in the UK. Direct Line insurance, Citizens Bank of the US and other international operations as well as most of its commercial and investment banking operations were divested, but it struggled to find a buyer for a collection of UK bank branches - the so-called Williams & Glyn estate - it had been ordered to sell by EU regulators. They were instead finally closed, and their customers transferred to other banks. Over 13 years after its implosion, NatWest Group was still majority-owned by the British government. NatWest repurchased a further stake in 2022, reducing the state to 48.1% of equity. It reported its first - modest - profit for nine years in 2017, as well as its first dividend payout to shareholders for almost a decade. There was a more robust profit in 2019, but the Covid pandemic forced the group back into the red for 2020. A bounceback in 2021 resulted in net profit of almost £3.0bn on total income of £10.5bn. Total assets were £782bn. Retail bank NatWest is the group's biggest business, but it still operates as Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland and Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland. Other units include a collection of private banks led by Coutts & Co, as well as leasing arm Lombard. Stephen Hester, who had undertaken most of the heavy lifting in RBS's post-2008 turnaround, was replaced as CEO in 2015 by Ross McEwan. He too stepped down after four years, to be replaced by Alison Rose.
Capsule checked 6th March 2021
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Adbrands Update 28th Mar 2022: NatWest Group finally ended almost 14 years of government ownership with the repurchase of a further 5% of its equity for £1.2bn. That will finally reduce the state's stake to a minority position of 48.1%. It represents an important moment for NatWest Group, but also a significant loss for the government. The shares were purchased in 2008 for 500p; they are being reacquired by NatWest Group for less than half that price, just 220.5p per share.
Adbrands Daily Update 14th Feb 2020: The first big change announced by incoming RBS boss Alison Rose is a new name. In a bid to draw a line under its troubled recent history Royal Bank of Scotland Group will adopt the new name NatWest Group at some point later in the year. The RBS brand will be retained for consumer banking branches in Scotland. All retail banking in England and Wales is conducted under the NatWest name.
Adbrands Daily Update 14th Aug 2018: Royal Bank of Scotland is reported to be close to naming Alison Rose as the successor to Ross McEwan as group CEO. She is currently, CEO of commercial & private banking and deputy CEO of NatWest, and would become the first female head of one of the UK's big banks.
Adbrands Daily Update 1st Mar 2018: Royal Bank of Scotland took investors by surprise with its first profit for a decade; it is a "symbolic moment" said CEO Ross McEwan. Though still under state ownership as a result of its virtual collapse in the 2008 crisis, RBS delivered an attributable profit of £752m, despite another round of charges for litigation and misconduct. However more charges may follow during 2018, since the bank has yet to reach a final settlement with the US Department of Justice over mortgage mis-selling. Revenues rose 4% to £13.1bn.
Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Mar 2018: Royal Bank of Scotland took investors by surprise with its first profit for a decade; it is a "symbolic moment" said CEO Ross McEwan. Though still under state ownership as a result of its virtual collapse in the 2008 crisis, RBS delivered an attributable profit of £752m, despite another round of charges for litigation and misconduct. However more charges may follow during 2018, since the bank has yet to reach a final settlement with the US Department of Justice over mortgage mis-selling. Revenues rose 4% to £13.1bn.
Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Jul 2017: Royal Bank of Scotland is still struggling to draw a line under the fallout from past bad behaviour, and specifically its involvement in mis-selling or underwriting toxic mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis. This week it agreed to pay another $5.5bn to settle litigation brought by the US Federal Housing Finance Agency. "This settlement is a stark reminder of what happened to this bank before the financial crisis, and the heavy price paid for its pursuit of global ambitions," said RBS CEO Ross McEwan. He admitted to "disappointment that we have to write such a big cheque to see these things through". A separate lawsuit from the US Department of Justice is still unresolved and could result in an even bigger fine, possibly as much as $12bn.
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