Sunday 12 February 2017 3:39 pm

RBS on track for ninth straight year of losses, as struggling bank pressed to close branches and cut jobs in digital push

I'm a reporter at City A.M., mainly covering law, professional services and banking

I'm a reporter at City A.M., mainly covering law, professional services and banking

Royal Bank of Scotland looks set to announce a multi-billion pound loss for 2016, its ninth straight year wallowing in the red, while it is also being pushed to cut branches as customers flee to digital banking.

The 73 per cent state owned bank, which will reveal its annual results on 24 February, racked up losses attributable to shareholders of £2.5bn in the first nine months of 2016 alone.

Its fourth quarter is unlikely to deliver a remarkable turnaround, considering the lender announced last month it would be adding £3.1bn to a provision for its as yet unresolved fine from the US Department of Justice for mis-selling mortgage-backed securities and, last October said it would be putting aside £400m to compensate small businesses which claim they were mistreated while in its Global Restructuring Group (GRG).

Read more: Tyrie tells City watchdog to spill the beans on RBS' GRG

It is understood RBS is continuing to scale back its costs. Although it is unlikely it will announce a large round of job losses as part of next week's results, the bank had already whittled down its full-time equivalent staff numbers to 82,500 by the end of last September, down 9,900 compared with the end of September 2015.

City A.M. also understands RBS is also considering closing the doors on some of its branches, as people increasingly go online to sort out their banking needs.

The Sunday Times reported the bank could need to cull as many as 15,000 jobs as it struggles to sort out its books. However, a spokesperson said the bank did not recognise this report.

Read more: RBS no closer to privatisation despite £3.1bn US fine provision

RBS is weighed down by a number of outstanding issues as it desperately tries to turn its business around. As well as the US mis-selling mega fine, predicted by some to potentially be as big as $12bn (£9.6bn), the lender is also yet to sell its Williams & Glyn operation and its 300-plus branch network.

Although RBS has now had some promising interest in Williams & Glyn, it will no doubt be feeling the pressure of meeting the end of 2017 deadline for ditching the network to comply with the terms of its 2008 £45bn state bailout deal.