RBS settles more 2008 share issue claims

By Douglas Fraser
Business/economy editor, Scotland

image sourcePA

Royal Bank of Scotland has moved closer to reaching a full settlement with the shareholder groups suing it over a 2008 issue of shares.

However, 13% of those who claimed £4bn, saying they were misled about the financial state of the bank, are still heading for court next month.

The bank announced it had agreed terms with a further 9% of all the claimants, taking the total to 87%.

The previous agreement was reached in December 2016.

The bank put aside £800m to settle the litigation and is understood to have paid a further £10m towards the legal costs for the latest agreement.

However, RBS emphasised that the settlements reached were "without any admission of liability".

Shareholders 'misled'

They concern the rights issue in spring of 2008, months before the bank had to be bailed out. Then chief executive Fred Goodwin raised £12bn from shareholders, telling them the bank was sound.

The legal claim is that bank executives knew of the Royal Bank's weakness and misled shareholders.

The court case, due to start on 22 May, is scheduled to see Mr Goodwin on the stand on 8 June.

It is reckoned by Royal Bank that the court case could continue for three to five years. Its strategy has been to try to reach out-of-court settlements, removing uncertainty over the potential costs.

Chief executive Ross McEwan said: "We have been very clear that putting our legacy issues behind us is a priority so that we can focus on building the best bank for our customers, shareholders and employees.

"We are pleased to have reached this agreement. We will continue to explore the possibility of settlement with the remaining claimants but if we cannot settle on agreeable terms we will defend the claims at trial."

Royal Bank of Scotland is to publish its results for the first three months of 2017 on Friday morning.

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