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Royal Bank of Scotland to return to profit despite new writedowns

ROYAL Bank of Scotland (RBS) is expected to return to profit today, as it reveals first half profit figures.<br /><br />The bank, which recorded a UK record loss of more than &pound;24bn for 2008, is predicted to reveal first-half pre-tax earnings of &pound;1.2bn, despite impairment charges expected to total &pound;7.9bn.<br /><br />Chief executive Stephen Hester is also expected to unveil his five-year plan for reducing the bank&rsquo;s risk appetite and delivering sustained profitability.<br /><br />The bank raised &pound;325m earlier this week via the sale of parts of its Asian operations to Australia and New Zealand banking group.<br /><br />The remainder of RBS Asia is likely to be sold to Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered, as Hester presses on with his streamlining efforts.