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RBS rebrands to NatWest as mortgage lending soars

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  • 14/02/2020
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RBS rebrands to NatWest as mortgage lending soars
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is dropping its name and rebranding as NatWest.

 

The taxpayer-backed group owns both RBS and NatWest, with the latter accounting for a far larger percentage of its UK customers.

The change was announced as the bank reported a £3.1bn increase in gross mortgage lending in 2019.

Home loan lending in the UK hit £33.3bn, up from £30.4bn in 2018.

At the same time, profits at the bank were reported at £4.2bn for the year, up from £3.5bn in the previous year.

Following in the steps of its competitors, RBS noted that challenging market conditions had put pressure on margins.

Net interest margin (NIM) dropped 10 basis points on 2018 to 1.99 per cent – in the final quarter of 2019 this dropped to 1.93 per cent, which the bank attributed directly to “competitive pressures in the mortgage business”.

The bank predicted a cut to the Bank of England base rate in 2020, and said the outlook is filled with “significant risks and uncertainties in the external economic, political and regulatory environment”.

It is targeting lending growth of “greater than three per cent” across both retail and commercial arms.

RBS also underlined “ambition to take the lead in combating the causes of climate change”.

 

A period of ‘unprecedented disruption’

Chief executive Alison Rose warned of uncertainties and changing environment in a statement to shareholders.

She said: “We, like our customers, are living in a period of unprecedented disruption – whether it is the struggle to get on the housing ladder or starting a business, the rapid growth of disruptive technology, an ageing population, the emergence of the gig economy or the existential impact of climate change.”

She added: “This disruption is happening against the backdrop of a highly uncertain economic environment.

“UK economic growth remains subdued, compared to its historic trend, and interest rates are likely to be lower for longer.

“This has an impact on our ability to generate net interest income.

“Business confidence continues to be affected by the UK’s departure from the EU as our customers await certainty over the future terms of trade.

“Consumer confidence on the other hand continues to be supported by a relatively strong UK employment market and we are seeing good volumes in our mortgage business as a result.

“We still see opportunities to grow in our key target markets despite some of these challenging trends.”

 

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