Acquisitions drive Bancorp to 40% rise

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The Independent Online

Financial Correspondent

NatWest Bancorp, the US retail subsidiary of NatWest Group, increased profits by over 40 per cent in the first six months. The figures were boosted by two acquisitions, where Bancorp has already made big cost savings.

City analysts said that while Bancorp had aimed to cut costs by 30 per cent when it bought Citizens First Bancorp last October and Central Jersey Bancorp this January, the British bank was in fact heading for savings of 35-40 per cent.

Bancorp made pre-tax profits of $217.5m for the six months, against $153m last time. The tax charge rose from $2.8m to $81.9m, however, sending net profits down 15 per cent to $118.5m.

The subsidiary cut 500 jobs in the first quarter, nearly 6 per cent of its US workforce, incurring a $10m charge. Bancorp is merging back- office operations and closing branches.

John Tugwell, Bancorp chairman and chief executive, said profit growth was driven by the two acquisitions and growing income from mortgages, retail branch banking and financial markets operations.

"NatWest Bancorp's broad-based presence in its marketplace now enables us to serve a growing customer base in a manner which is more convenient for them and more cost-efficient and productive for us," Mr Tugwell said.

Bancorp's key cost/income ratio fell slightly from 67 per cent, relatively high for a UK bank, to 64 per cent.