State-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland axes 1,400 more jobs

LONDON (AFP) - State-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland axed 1,400 more positions on Thursday, taking the total number of job losses close to 40,000 since its vast state bailout at the height of the global financial crisis.

"RBS has announced plans to restructure its retail head office functions in the UK. The changes will result in 1,400 job losses over the next two years," it said in a statement.

A company spokesman told AFP that the latest round of losses took the total job cuts to 38,900 over the past five years, as the bank has sought to transform its fortunes.

He added that following the latest losses, RBS would employ 120,000 staff worldwide.

Unite, Britain's biggest union, attacked the latest cuts as "brutal and irresponsible" behaviour.

However, RBS insisted that the move was aimed at improving customer service.

"To serve our customers well we have to ensure that our resources are focused on the things that matter most to them," said Ross McEwan, head of UK Retail.

"Regrettably, we can only do that by restructuring the way we work in head office so that every effort is concentrated on supporting our customers and the frontline staff that serve them."

The British government owns 81 per cent of RBS after the bank was bailed out in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis with 45.5 billion pounds (S$86.8 billion) of taxpayers' cash, making it the world's biggest banking bailout.

The lender was ravaged by its badly-timed consortium takeover of Dutch bank ABN Amro at the top of the market in 2007, just before the crisis struck.

RBS said earlier this month that it planned a return to the private sector next year following the massive restructuring programme.

The Edinburgh-based bank hopes to begin offloading the government's stake from the middle of next year or possibly earlier.

The lender had also revealed that it swung back into profit in the first quarter with net earnings of 393 million pounds on a drop in bad loan provisions and after a hefty loss a year earlier.

Its profit after tax for the January-March period compared with a net loss of 1.545 billion pounds in the first quarter of 2012.

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