LONDON (AP) — Taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland took a whopping 8.2 billion-pound ($13.7 billion) pre-tax loss for 2013 as it announced a new plan Thursday to transform itself, streamlining the bank to make it smaller and safer.
Chief Executive Ross McEwan said RBS will now focus on Britain, signaling a rollback from the global ambitions the institution held before the onset of the financial crisis. In a somber speech in London, McEwan pledged he would do the “hard graft” to regain the trust of its customers.
“So let me spell it out very clearly: the days when RBS sought to be the biggest bank in the world – those days are well and truly over,” McEwan said. “Our ambition is to be a bank for U.K. customers, the best bank for U.K. customers. A bank that gets the basics of everyday banking right.”
British taxpayers rescued RBS in 2008 with a 45 billion-pound ($71 billion) capital injection after former swash-buckling CEO Fred Goodwin brought the bank to near-collapse with an aggressive global expansion strategy that included the ill-fated purchase of Dutch lender ABN Amro. The public owns just over 80 percent of the institution.
“It has been a real shock how much time it is taking to turn it round,” he told the BBC.
McEwan pledged he will revive the bank by making it “smaller, simpler and smarter” and have it shrink from seven divisions to three. British media have reported that as many as one-quarter of the bank’s 120,000 strong workforce could lose their jobs.
“We are the least trusted company in the least trusted sector of the economy,” McEwan said. “That must change. So the goal of my plan is very simple: We have to be a bank that earns your trust.”