August 4, 2017 / 9:11 AM / 8 months ago

RBS plans Amsterdam hub for NatWest Markets after Brexit

LONDON, Aug 4 (IFR) - Royal Bank of Scotland could add 150 staff to its Amsterdam operation as NatWest Markets, its investment bank arm, will use a Netherlands licence to deal with Britain’s exit from the European Union.

RBS said on Friday it will build up the business if needed, depending on the outcome of Brexit talks.

It has a Netherlands licence as a legacy of its ABN Amro takeover in 2008, but currently only a handful of staff are in Amsterdam and the bank said it is now making it “operationally ready”.

RBS chief executive Ross McEwen said up to 150 staff could be needed for the business, which will serve UK clients who want access to the EU, and EU clients who need UK access. He said planning was at an early stage.

Ewen Stevenson, finance chief, said the cost of setting up the unit would be “in the low tens of millions” of pounds.

RBS rebranded its investment bank as NatWest Markets at the end of last year.

Revenues from the unit in the second quarter jumped 17% from a year ago to £472m, taking first-half revenues to £980m, up 44% on the year. It made an adjusted operating profit of £341m for the first-half, compared to £41m in the first half of 2016.

McEwen said it was benefiting from the rebranding and its narrower focus on rates, foreign exchange and debt capital markets businesses.

“As you focus you do better in the markets that you concentrate on and that’s certainly been the case,” McEwen told reporters on a conference call.

“The rebranding has been part of us reinvigorating the businesses, the NatWest Markets renaming has gone very well here and over in Europe and the team behind it has been reinvigorated. They are starting to win market share again.”

Rates revenues were £287m in the latest quarter, up 9% from a year ago. Currencies revenues rose 5% to £128m and financing income, which includes DCM, doubled to £99m.

For the first half, rates revenues jumped 59% from a year ago to £612m, currencies revenues dipped 4% to £256m and financing doubled to £187m.

RBS reported a pre-tax profit of £939m across the bank for the first half, beating analysts expectations. (Reporting by Steve Slater)

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