WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Royal Bank of Scotland Group changing name to NatWest Group plc as most customers are in Englandby Chris Musson
THE Royal Bank of Scotland Group announced it was renaming itself NatWest - as most customers are south of the border.
The rebranding of the Edinburgh-based plc after 51 years is the first major decision by new chief executive Alison Rose.
And it is likely to spark claims the bank is trying to shake off its past woes - notably its near collapse in 2008 - with a cosmetic change.
Bosses said the move to become NatWest Group plc was because 80 per cent of customers bank with the NatWest brand, rather than through RBS branches.
They insisted it would have no impact on customers or staff, and Scottish branches would not be renamed.
Chairman Howard Davies said: "The board has decided that it is the right time to align the parent name with the brand under which the great majority of our business is delivered."
The decision came as the bank reported profits of £3.1billion for last year - nearly double the £1.6 billion the previous year.
Ms Rose unveiled a 5p-a-share special dividend, although the full-year dividend was cut from 3.5p to 3p.
It means the bank's biggest shareholder - the Government - will receive a payout of nearly £600 million.
RBS - still 62 per cent state-owned - was rescued by the UK Government in 2008 amid the financial crisis at a cost of £45 billion.
The Royal Bank of Scotland was founded in 1727, though the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc - comprising 11 firms including RBS bank, NatWest and Ulster Bank - was founded in 1969.
Ms Rose, who was also making a speech to staff this morning setting out her strategy, said the annual results “are a reminder of the strong foundations we have built”.
She said: “Our profits are up, our capital position remains strong, and this year we will have returned a further £2.7 billion to our shareholders.
"But our performance doesn't yet match the potential that exists in this bank. We can deliver so much more."
She also announced cost cuts of £250 million, following the closure of 215 branches over the year.
The next step, according to Ms Rose, is to create a "purpose-led" bank, aligning executive pay with a range of targets linked to long-term bonuses.
The targets include creating 50,000 new businesses by 2023, helping to create 500,000 jobs.
RBS added that this would include 75 per cent of jobs outside London, 60 per cent women, 20 per cent BAME and 10 per cent "social purpose".
Bosses also said they want to teach customers how to save and have a "climate positive" operation by 2025, with a halving the climate impact of financing activity.
RBS also wants to ensure 50 per cent of its mortgage book is comprised of properties with an energy efficiency rating of at least C by 2030.
Speaking this morning, Davies explained: "The essential reason for this is as the bank has evolved from the financial crisis and the bailout, we have focused on the NatWest brand.
"We have exited a lot of the international business which were not profitable. That was branded RBS and that's gone.
"It really makes no sense for us to continue to be called RBS. It was designed for a global group of brands, which we no longer are."
He added the registered office will remain in Edinburgh, with no plans for "unscrewing any brass plaques at this point".
Although a second independence referendum in Scotland could change this, he said.