Osborne unapologetic for RBS interference

GEORGE Osborne pledged yesterday that he would continue to influence how the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is run, despite claims that his interference is harming the bank.

The chancellor said that as well as ensuring that the taxpayer’s 81 per cent stake is sold at a fair price, he wants to make sure that RBS contributes to the UK’s growth.

“I want to get out of owning that bank … but it has to be both value for money and in a way that supports the British economy,” he said. Osborne’s comments, made at The Times CEO summit, follow criticism that he has meddled with RBS, firstly by sacking outgoing chief Stephen Hester and secondly by pressing for it to be split into a so-called good and bad bank.

“I think the decisions taken about RBS to look seriously at the bad assets in RBS and whether it would be right to create a bad bank … is a sensible approach,” he said.

Today, RBS will announce an independent review into its lending practices. The review, led by former Bank of England deputy governor Sir Andrew Large and carried out by management consultancy Oliver Wyman, will “identify steps that RBS and NatWest can take to enhance its support to SMEs and the economic recovery while maintaining safe and sound lending practices”.

Meanwhile, RBS-owned Ulster Bank announced that it would cut 1,800 jobs – a third of its workforce – as part of a drive to return to profit.