RBS 'chastened' after losing £5.2bn in a year
ROYAL Bank of Scotland made its fifth annual loss since it was saved by the Government five years ago.
It reported a pre-tax loss of £5.17bn, brought deeply into the red by a series of charges.
The loss compares with £768m a year ago.
RBS went on a charm offensive yesterday saying it had been "chastened" by the experience and that it has sought to put right past mistakes.
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Chief executive Stephen Hester said the bank could be ready for sale in the next two years although it was a matter for the Government.
Chairman Sir Philip Hampton, in a conference call with regional journalists, said the bank was very much open for business that it wanted to hear from businesses seeking loans.
He said the bank still had "a long way to go" in terms of attitude, treatment, provision of services and value to customers.
He noted that large corporates were sitting on a lot of cash with many more highly rated by agencies than banks.
Sir Philip said there was little loan growth from large companies which was why the bank wanted to stimulate loans to smaller businesses.
"We do want to expand their activities," he said.
"We have plenty of capital and plenty of willingness to make money available to new businesses.
"SME lending is a key part of our business and we are in the business of lending to them. We are short of loan opportunities. Applications have fallen very sharply, by 19 per cent in 2012.
"That is a very big fall from already low levels. One of the problems with the economy is that not enough people are coming forward to borrow money from the banks.
"We would like them to come forward with business opportunities and make money available to them."
Sir Philip said the bank was approving about 90 per cent of applications.
There was no problem with availability or desire, he added.
Sir Philip said RBS was the largest bank it the world before the crisis and while its core businesses were making £6bn profit, there were still legacy problems such as fines, compensation and losses on loans.
RBS, 81 per cent owned by the Government, reported an operating profit of £3.5bn.
Much of the loss was attributed to an accounting charge of £4.6bn relating to buying back its own liabilities.
Profits were cut by a fine of £381 million for attempting to fix Libor, the inter bank lending rate.
The bank also made provision of £450 million to cover misselling of Payment Protection Insurance.
It has set aside £215 million to pay bonuses to investment bankers.