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Britain's RBS pays first dividend in decade

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) on Friday paid its first dividend in a decade, returning 2 pence per share to around 190,000 shareholders who haven’t seen a payout since RBS’s government bailout in 2008.

A person walks past a branch of RBS bank in Nottingham, Britain, December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The bank has spent the past ten years trying to return to its roots as a prudent lender following its near-collapse during the financial crisis, a process that has involved hefty restructuring costs and years of losses.

The bank’s CEO Ross McEwan said the dividend was a small return for many years of patience from its shareholders, which still include the UK government after it bailed the bank out with 45.5 billion pounds at the peak of the crisis.

“This is another important milestone in our turnaround, almost ten years to the day that RBS was rescued by the British taxpayer,” he said in a statement.

UK Government Investments, which manages Britain’s remaining 62 percent stake in RBS, will receive around 240 million pounds from the payout, which was announced at the bank’s half-year results.

The government resumed sales of its shares in the bank earlier this year, after RBS settled an investigation by U.S. authorities into its sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities in the run up to the crisis for $4.9 billion.

Even after this payment, the bank has a healthy level of excess capital which it plans to return to investors, including possibly via a special dividend or share buy back.

Reporting by Emma Rumney, Editing by Lawrence White and Janet Lawrence

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