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NatWest’s thumping profits can’t be justified: it’s time politicians got tough

In banking terms, NatWest’s leadership did a great job. But as the Farage row shows, they have a long way to go when it comes to making excuses for bad behaviour, writes Chris Blackhurst

Friday 28 July 2023 17:17 BST
How do supposedly intelligent people manage to get it so wrong?
How do supposedly intelligent people manage to get it so wrong? (PA Wire)

Ordinarily, this would have been a day of satisfaction for Sir Howard Davies, chair of NatWest, and the bank’s chief executive Dame Alison Rose.

They wouldn’t do triumphalism – their PRs would have said to tone it down – but producing results ahead of City expectations is always a cause for celebration. Second-quarter revenues were up 20 per cent to £3.9bn, when the analysts were predicting £3.7bn. Profits did even better, increasing 26 per cent to £1.8bn, nicely ahead of the forecast £1.5bn.

Dame Alison, though, was not present to talk through the bank’s performance – she’d gone, a victim of the row about the closure of Nigel Farage’s account at NatWest’s Coutts subsidiary. The focus of the interest, too, was on that debacle, with the focus turning to Davies’s future.

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