RBS has paid its first dividend since it was rescued from collapse by a £45.5bn taxpayer-funded bailout 10 years ago.
The bank said the dividend, announced in August, was worth about £240m to 190,000 shareholders, including the state vehicle UK Government Investments, which holds the taxpayers’ 62% stake. The Treasury will pick up nearly £150m.
The chief executive, Ross McEwan, said: “I’m pleased to be able to pay a dividend to our shareholders;a small return after their many years of patience and a testament to the hard work of everyone at this bank. This is another important milestone in our turnaround, almost 10 years to the day that RBS was rescued by the British taxpayer.
“We have created a smaller, safer bank that is generating more sustainable profits. Our capital position is above our target and we are also looking to return any excess capital as soon as possible to shareholders.”
RBS became a symbol of the UK banking sector’s implosion during the financial crisis that engulfed the world in 2008, with public ire focusing on its aggressive expansion under the former chief executive Fred “The Shred” Goodwin, who was stripped of his knighthood.
This year the RBS chair, Sir Howard Davies, said it was unlikely the bailout cost would be recouped in full, given the extent to which the bank had shrunk since its bailout, largely as a condition attached to the receipt of state aid.
The government has begun selling chunks of shares in the bank, reducing its holding from more than 80% to 62% but at well below the 502p-a-share price at which it originally bought the stake.
Last November, the government said it aimed to sell £15bn of RBS shares by 2023, offloading £3bn a year over five years. One stake was sold in June at 271p a share; a 5.4% stake was sold in 2015 at 330p a share.
As RBS resumed its dividend, the Positive Money campaign group delivered a birthday card to RBS, admonishing the bank for its “failure to change” in the decade since its bailout. Campaigners handed over the card at a branch of RBS in Angel, north London, as it opened at 9.15am on Friday.
It bears the message: “10 years since the global financial crash, happy anniversary” on the front. Inside, it reads: “Ten years on and none the wiser! A decade on and you haven’t changed a bit! How come you still look exactly the same?”
The page opposite is filled with dozens of messages written by members of the public.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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