RBS: A Royal Mess

| About: The Royal (RBS)

There’s something about the “Royal” moniker that implies solidity in an institution. No more. The Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s (NYSE: RBS) record loss of £24 billion marks a new low in the demise of this once widely respected bank. As Credit Writedowns points out “That’s about £400 for every living sole [sic] in the country.”

Likewise a knighthood is supposed to reward outstanding contributions to the nation. Maybe the current financial reforms should include a mechanism for rescinding the honor to people such as RBS’s deposed “Sir” Fred Goodwin, who now suffers the misfortune of retiring at 50 with an annual pension of a mere 650,000 quid.

Despite the miserable performance, RBS seems safe for now, given the UK Treasury’s massive support, analysts tracked by Alacra Street Pulse say. Under the latest terms of the bailout, the government’s stake is set to rise to 80% or more.

Sandy Chen, the bearish banking analyst at Panmure Gordon, remained cautious, saying that while the favourable pricing of the scheme, along with the additional capital injection from the Government, will remove the immediate capital concerns around the bank, his team still had “concerns about further losses and capital strains, particularly in the £991bn of derivatives”.

“We expect these concerns will crystallise over the next 6 months; for now, the markets will probably focus on the favourable terms of the bailout.”

The FT’s Lex says “the reality remains that this is another big step along the road to state control. Assuming all B-shares convert, the government ends up with over 84 per cent of RBS. Even though its voting rights are limited to 75 per cent, this is a Potemkin-like pretence at private sector capitalism.” ”

It might forestall outright nationalisation, unless economic disaster strikes, but this will be a public sector company in mind, body and spirit for years to come.

Also at FT.com, Willem Buiter says “the Treasury’s deal with RBS under the Asset Protection Scheme is even more disadvantageous to the tax payer than I had feared.”

It isn’t even a dead bank walking any longer - more a dead bank stumbling and fumbling around.

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Tagged: , Money Center Banks, United Kingdom
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