Royal Bank of Scotland hit by $2.7bn first-half loss

RBS building

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), one of the U.K.'s "big four" banks, posted a massive £2.045 billion ($2.7 billion) net loss for the first six months of 2016 on Friday.

"We've always been pretty upfront that we are in a sort of transitional period over 2015 and 2016. I think what you saw with today's results was very consistent with that: A billion pounds of pre-tax operating profit for the core business and then on top of that, a whole series of restructuring costs and provisions for legacy litigation and conduct issues that we've been pretty upfront about, that we continue to clean up," RBS Chief Financial Officer Ewen Stevenson told CNBC Friday.

The U.K. government remains the majority shareholder of RBS after the bank was part-nationalized in 2008 in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Reuters reported shortly after the Brexit vote that the government had scrapped plans to sell stake in RBS and Lloyds Banking Group this year as a result, citing sources close to the treasury.

In common with other U.K. banks, RBS shares fell sharply after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union on June 23

RBS earnings come a day after the Bank of England cut its main interest rate for the first time since March 2009. The bank also signaled a further cut could be made before the end of the year, although Governor Mark Carney said he did not envisage negative interest rates.

A £60 billion ($79 billion) hike to the bank's sovereign bond-buying program was also announced, along with the purchase of up to £10 billion U.K. corporate bonds and a new Term Funding Scheme worth up to £100 billion.

The bank also made the biggest cut to its growth estimate for the U.K. economy since it began forecasting in 1992. It now sees the U.K. economy growing by 0.8 percent next year, rather than the 2.3 percent previously forecast.

Sterling has fallen by around 12 percent since the U.K. vote to quit the European Union on June 23. The Bank of England's announcement on Thursday pushed the currency lower on the day.

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RBS was the last of the U.K.'s big four banks to report earnings for the first six months of this year.

HSBC reported a year-on-year drop of almost 29 percent in pre-tax profit for the first half of 2016 on Wednesday. Shares of HSBC have rallied since then, however, because the bank announced a share buy-back of up to $2.5 billion to take place this year.

Lloyds reported a more-than-doubling in pre-tax profit for the first half at the end of last month, but also announced plans to ax 3,000 more jobs and close 200 additional branches. Its shares declined on results' day but have pared some losses since.

Barclays posted a 21 percent drop in first-half profit before tax due to the cost of disposing of its non-core business, when it reported last week.

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