More jobs to go as NatWest plans 300 branch closures

NatWest said yesterday there would be further job cuts in the UK bank on top of 3,800 lost over the last 12 months, as another 300 branches close by the end of the decade.

Indications that the bank's intensive slimming programme is still on course came as NatWest completed a pounds 451m share buy-back at 626p a share to distribute surplus capital to shareholders.

Derek Wanless, chief executive, said: "We see a significant further reduction in jobs on top of the significant reductions we have seen in the last few years - that is an industry-wide trend." He refused to predict the number of jobs still to go, saying unions and staff would be told first.

He also said NatWest had achieved half the 10 percentage-point reduction it planned in the ratio of costs to its income in the UK, which has fallen to 67.8 per cent over the last year.

NatWest warned the ratio might rise in the second half-year because of spending on new technology, and that progress towards the 63 per cent target, which has been set for the end of the decade, would be "lumpy".

NatWest will have cut almost 1,000 branches between 1992 and 2000. In the last five years it has eliminated 30,000 jobs in the UK, offset by only 10,000 new ones. In the latest six months it has cut 1,500 jobs after a reduction of 2,300 in the second half of last year.

Mr Wanless made clear NatWest would still like to use some of its money to buy a life insurance company, but no deal is imminent. He said: "We currently see no opportunities that meet all our acquisition criteria."

After the bank gave the spare cash in its kitty back to shareholders, the price slipped 12p to 616p, which dealers said was because institutions that took the money would not be able to trade for some while. If they did, the Inland Revenue might question their tax rebates on the buy-back cash.

NatWest's pre-tax profits were down from pounds 872m a year ago to pounds 302m in the latest half-year, a consequence of write-downs and integration costs that confused the results. But underlying pre-tax profit rose 23 per cent.

After including paper losses on the disposal of Bancorp in the United States - because of recent accounting rules on the treatment of goodwill - NatWest went into the red, losing pounds 282m after tax and dividends in the half year, compared with a profit of pounds 439m a year earlier. The interim dividend is up 14 per cent.

There was a sharp rise in bad debt at the Lombard finance house, from pounds 51m to pounds 74m because of a rush of bad loans mainly to young and low income customers for electronics goods such as mobile phones.

But down-payments and age limits are being raised and the subsidiary is being restructured by Stewart Legg, a new chief executive who took over this month. Mr Wanless saw it as an example of banks spotting problems earlier than in the past. He said "We are at the stage in the economic cycle when traditionally banks have made mistakes."

NatWest Markets, the investment bank, made pounds 261m before tax compared with pounds 209m a year ago. Dealing income was pounds 305m compared with pounds 261m a year earlier.

Investment Column, page 18

Suggested Topics
News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

The benefits of Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Finance Assistant - Part time - 9 month FTC

£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...

Marketing Manager

£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes