Fines of $612M another problem for RBS, parent of Citizens Bank
A global interest rate-setting scandal and $612 million in fines against Royal Bank of Scotland could push RBS into selling its Citizens Bank franchise, but only as a last resort, said industry analysts on Wednesday.
RBS agreed to plead guilty to felony wire fraud and to pay a total of $612 million to U.S. and British authorities over allegations that the Scottish bank helped manipulate global interest rates through a Japanese subsidiary between 2006 and 2010, said the Justice Department.
No individuals have been indicted, but the Justice Department and British authorities are still investigating.
The Scottish bank plans to cut $470 million from its bank bonus pool, including clawing back from workers bonuses given in earlier years, according to Reuters.
RBS becomes the third global financial institution, after Barclays and UBS, to reach a settlement over the so-called Libor (London inter-bank offered rate) scandal. Libor rates are a global benchmark for determining rates on many business and consumer loans, such as home mortgages and credit cards.
A Justice Department statement called the bank's conduct “a stunning abuse of trust” and said it “undermined the integrity and the competitiveness of financial markets everywhere.”
U.K.-based spokesmen for RBS could not be reached. Spokesmen for RBS Citizens Financial, the U.S. parent of Citizens Bank, declined to comment.
Citizens Bank — Western Pennsylvania's second-largest retail bank, with 132 branches — is part of RBS Citizens Financial Group, based in Providence, R.I., which is Royal Bank of Scotland's American banking franchise.
The fine likely means RBS will have to “raise more capital or to shrink,” said Anthony Carfang, partner at Treasury Strategies Inc., a major bank consultant in Chicago. “But the amount ($612 million) is small, relative to the value of their U.S. operation,” which is worth “many times that $612 million,” he estimated.
“You wouldn't sell your car to pay a parking ticket,” said Carfang.
The U.K. government, which owns 81 percent of RBS, has been pressuring the bank for months to sell its U.S. operations, say analysts. The government stake stems from bailing out RBS at a cost of nearly $73 billion in 2008.
Possible suitors tend to be foreign banks, such as Toronto Dominion or TD, Scotia Bank or BNP Paribas, said Nancy Atkinson, senior analyst at Aite Group.
“If Citizens went on the block, I'd have a hard time betting on a U.S. bank taking it over,” she said.
The only American bank with enough financial heft and without much branch overlap might be U.S. Bancorp, Minneapolis, she said.
The largest U.S. banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citibank — are less likely candidates to acquire RBS Citizens, if it were available, say analysts. Not only would they likely run afoul of antitrust regulators' concerns about deposit market concentration, but the federal government does not want “too big to fail” banks to get even bigger.
“Regulators have told the biggest banks not to even think about buying another big bank,” said Nancy Bush, an analyst for SNL Financial. “So it becomes a question of who would RBS even sell to.”
Bush also said foreign banks' interest in gaining U.S. footholds has waned since the 2008-09 financial crisis because regulations here have stiffened.
Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ESPN sues Verizon over unbundling plan for FiOS
- Starbucks glitch that closed stores shows reliance on registers
- Mixed economy likely means no Fed rate hike soon
- Hog Father’s eatery chain ferries barbecue to workers at gas well pads
- Mylan rejects Teva’s $40 billion takeover bid
- Stocks slide in busy week of quarterly earnings reports
- Oil’s rebound pushes up price at gas pumps
- Camera prevalence approaches sci-fi realm
- Visa limits vex businesses