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The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBS)

2011 Earnings Call

February 23, 2012 4:30 am ET


Philip R. Hampton - Chairman and Chairman of Nominations Committee

Stephen A. M. Hester - Group Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director

Richard O’Connor - Head of Investor Relations


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Philip R. Hampton

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Right. Well, let's start. And good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to our full year results. I think the results overall showed good progress, with our Core businesses making around GBP 6 billion profits. But, of course, we're still dealing with the big challenges from the financial excesses of a few years ago that come up in our Non-Core division. And this year, we've got some very big charges with Greece PPI and others, which are largely, though not universally legacy-type problems. Step by step, I think it's clear that this bank, this business is being fixed.

I'll say one more thing, and then I'll hand over to Steven to explain how it's being fixed. The other thing I'd like to say or really rather reemphasize is that, of course, we are a very odd business in ownership terms, once listed on the stock market, but majority owned by the U.K. government. And of course, there are representatives of UKFI with their commercial arm's length relationship.

The question is sometimes raised as to how long those arms are, and the answer is that we do engage in discussions with all of our shareholders on performance, strategy, governance, remuneration and so on. And these discussions are inevitably fuller and more frequent with an 82% shareholder, whose opinions have a proper place and adjustments made by the Board and the management. But at the end of the day, all decisions in the company have to be taken by the Board and the management. And by law, those decisions have to take into account the interest of all of our shareholders. It's not, of course, just a accompanied lower issue. The clarity of decision-making and accountability is fundamental to the prudential management of all businesses and, of course, particularly financial institutions.

So whilst we do engage with shareholders, especially UKFI, we have to take our decisions on behalf of all shareholders, and we have to be wholly accountable for the decisions that we take solely and wholly accountable.

So it will be obvious, I'm sure, to everybody here that this is a very challenging set of circumstances for all parties. It's certainly very unusual. But I think, so far, we have been able to deal with those challenges and find acceptable solutions. I hope and I expect that we will be able to continue to do so. The Board firmly believes that running the business commercially is the only realistic way to secure the eventual exit of our majority shareholder because clearly, investors will have a very limited appetite to invest in an commercial bank.

So let me now hand over to Steven, who will describe the progress we're making.

Stephen A. M. Hester

Thank you, Philip. Good morning, everyone. Normal format this morning. Obviously, I'm going to go over a few matters and then hand over to Bruce to take you through the results and obviously, deal with as many of your questions afterwards as we can do. And I'm dividing my remarks this morning really into 3 categories, one just briefly the headlines of what we've announced for the year. I think perhaps more importantly, although you could argue it's retrospective, for the first time today since it does mark the end of our first 3 years in this 5-year turnaround plan that we set out in 2009, we've actually presented for you what the real numbers that we really thought we could achieve were 3 years ago that we haven't presented before and how we've done against them in an environment which, as you know, has turned out rather more difficult than we expected. And then I move in my final section into talking about the adjustments that we announced in January to our strategic plan that we're implementing what they were, why they were and what we think we will accomplish by them.

And so just briefly on the headlines of the results, which most of you will have seen, as you know fundamentally, RBS is doing the job in some ways of 2 different jobs. We are, as I have said in the media, in the process of diffusing the biggest time bomb ever put in a bank's balance sheet, and that progress is going extremely well. And at the same time, we're running a very big global complicated bank competing against lots of other people serving our customers. And we believe that we've made progress and could be paired -- can be compared reasonably for that effort as well.

And you'll see, I'm not going to read every line, that in 2011, we made progress right across the board in strengthening our balance sheet, strengthening the way it's funded, running down well ahead of schedule on Non-Core division and its assets; in the Core bank, making good profits and good progress, albeit, in the case of GBM in particular, only in line with the industry, which was down. And so we can see just on these few numbers in the second slide that we have operating profit, if you like, in the bit of our bank that you can compare to Barclays or Lloyds or whatever else you want to compare it to, GBP 6.1 billion of profits and a return on equity of 10.5% and stable net interest margin and so on as you read down this. And that bank is funded entirely, at least as to its loan book, by deposits with a 94% cost-income ratio.

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