Business

Royal Bank of Scotland returns

Friday, October 19, 2012    

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LONDON, England — STATE-RESCUED Royal Bank of Scotland announced its exit from the government’s toxic-asset insurance scheme on Wednesday, a move hailed by Finance Minister George Osborne as a step towards its return to the private sector.

The bank, which is 81 per cent owned by the taxpayer after a vast bailout at the height of the global financial crisis, has participated in the asset protection scheme (APS) since late 2009, it said in a statement.

The scheme acted as an insurance policy for £282 billion ($41 trillion) of the troubled group’s riskiest investments and loans.

The troubled lender added that it has since slashed this amount by 63 per cent to £105 billion, as many of the insured assets have been sold or written off.

“The government’s strategy remains to return RBS to the private sector when it is of value for the taxpayer to do so. Today is a step in that direction,” said Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne.

Investors also welcomed the move, sending RBS shares soaring by almost three per cent in value.

The bank noted in its statement that the insurance safety net had been vital to stabilising market perceptions of the bank, whose share price had plunged as low as 10 pence in February 2009.

“The bank’s exit from the APS demonstrates the progress RBS has made in transforming a balance sheet that had become dangerously large and unstable into one that is more conservative, resilient and sustainable,” it said.

RBS will have paid £2.5 billion for its participation, without having made a claim under the scheme. It also paid about £1.5 billion to HM Treasury for liquidity support received during the financial crisis.

The near-collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland was a high-profile and highly controversial event which shocked Britain, outraged taxpayers and focused bitter media attention on bonuses and behaviour in bank boardrooms.

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