Britain's RBS set to report rare quarterly profit

LONDON Thu May 1, 2014 7:01pm EDT

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LONDON May 2 (Reuters) - Part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland is on Friday expected to report a quarterly attributable profit for only the sixth time since its 45 billion pound ($76 billion) government rescue during the 2008 financial crisis.

The bank, which is 81 percent-owned by the government, posted an 8.2 billion pound pretax loss in 2013 due to restructuring costs and misconduct charges, bringing the total it has lost since the bailout to 46 billion pounds.

The bank is forecast to report an attributable profit of 200 million pounds in the first quarter, according to the average forecast from a poll of 8 analysts supplied by the bank.

Operating profit, excluding restructuring charges, is expected to be 800 million pounds, up from 747 million in the same quarter last year.

The bank is expected to benefit from an improved margin and lower impairment charges as Britain's economy improves.

"We see the bank growing interest income slightly in Q1 driven by UK retail on the back of a continued rebound in the UK," said Sanford Bernstein analyst Chirantan Barua.

Chief Executive Ross McEwan is battling to turn around the bank, which has been plagued by fines and investigations into past misconduct and remains three to five years away from a return to full private ownership, according to banking and political sources.

The bank's actions continue to be intensely scrutinised by lawmakers and the government last week blocked its plans to pay bonuses worth double an employee's fixed salary, saying it could not be justified while RBS remained a majority publicly-owned bank.

Investors, including a top Standard Life executive, have said the government's intervention will put the bank at a competitive disadvantage.

RBS last month agreed to pay 1.5 billion pounds to cancel an arrangement that gave the government priority over dividends, clearing one obstacle to the eventual sale of the state's stake.

The bank may update investors on Friday about plans to float its U.S. retail business Citizens. It wants to sell between 20 percent and 33 percent this year.

($1 = 0.5922 British Pounds) (Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Mark Potter)

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