In an attempt to restart its dividend payments, the Royal Bank of Scotland has paid £1.2 billion to the UK Treasury to end an arrangement concerned with the government’s full control on the bank’s dividends. The payment to the Treasury will end the Dividend Access Scheme (DAS) which was adopted in 2009 when RBS bailed out as a result of the financial crisis. The bank has seen its eight year of annual losses, reporting a loss of £1.98 billion in 2015. The government, which still owns 73% of RBS, has expressed intentions to sell most of its RBS stake in the next five years.
Despite of the announcement however, analysts have warned that the possibility of the shareholders receiving dividends from the bank in the near future is very low. Following its mammoth £24.1 billion loss in 2008, RBS has not paid a dividend ever since.
Chief executive Ross McEwan said: ‘On the back of progress we have made in strengthening the bank’s balance sheet in recent years, I am pleased that we are today able to repay the UK Government £1.193 billion to finally retire the Dividend Access Share. This is another important milestone in our plan to resume capital distributions to our shareholders, and represents one less hurdle in our path to build the number one bank for customer service, trust and advocacy.’
“Today’s payment to the Treasury represents a step in the rehabilitation of RBS into a normal bank, but there’s still an awfully long way to go. Dividends have been pushed back until the full extent of US conduct costs is out in the open, and the share price is still languishing well below what the government paid for the bank, which means it’s going to be some considerable time before the bank is weaned off taxpayer support. RBS is heading in the same direction as Lloyds and will probably get there in the end, but it’s going to be a long haul. The risk for shareholders is that while the bank is still getting to its feet, the economy takes a nosedive and knocks it back to square one.” said Laith Khalaf, Senior Analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.