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RBS to refocus on UK business

Thursday, February 27 08:29:25

RBS - whose global ambitions precipitated its near collapse - aims to have 80 percent of its assets based in Britain, up from 60 percent, new chief executive Ross McEwan said.

The bank, which is 81-percent state-owned, said it would shrink costs by 5.3 billion euros or 40 percent, over the medium-term as part of McEwan's plan to turn around the bank.

"Let's be quite clear. We are too expensive, we are too bureacratic and we need to change," McEwan said.

But the bank risked a political backlash by saying it would hand out 576 million pounds in staff bonuses for 2013, down 15 percent on the year before, but still a major sticking point for politicians and taxpayers who have had to swallow six straight years of losses at RBS since its bailout in 2008.

It is selling operations, including its U.S. retail business, Citizens, and cutting the number of business units at the bank from seven to three.

Philip Hampton, RBS's chairman, said in a letter to shareholders that the bank was monitoring the debate about Scottish independence.

"Clearly there are issues we are looking at - currency, the application of financial regulation, lender of last resort, credit ratings - which could affect us," Hampton said.

"But there is real uncertainty about how any of these matters would be settled in the event of a 'Yes' vote and the outcome would depend on negotiations between the two governments." ( C ) Reuters