UK bank RBS first half losses widen to S$3.6b

 A man walks past a branch of The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in central London.
A man walks past a branch of The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in central London.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Royal Bank of Scotland reported widening first-half losses and unveiled new plans to offload its Williams & Glyn business on the eve of a new phase of economic instability caused by Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

The part-nationalised bank booked £2.05 billion (S$3.61 billion) of losses attributable to shareholders for the first half of 2016 on Friday (Aug 5), up from a £179 million loss in the first half last year.

In a surprise move, RBS also said it scrapped plans to build an independent technology platform for its Williams & Glyn unit, citing complexity and the lower interest environment.

"The board concluded that the risks and costs inherent in the programme are such that it would not be prudent to continue with this programme," the bank said in the statement. "RBS will instead prioritise exploring alternative means to achieve divestment."