NatWest annual profits surge ahead of government stake share sale

NatWest Group (LSE: NWG) on Friday appointed Paul Thwaite as permanent chief executive while reporting a 20% annual rise in pre-tax profits to £6.2 billion for 2023 – exceeding analyst forecasts.

The taxpayer-backed bank also announced a final dividend of 11.5 pence per share and a £300 million share buyback programme. as it prepares for a pivotal government share sale.

NatWest stock jumped at the open on Friday but remains down 30% over the past 12 months. Shares have remained in a tight range since November 2023.

Natwest NWG Shares Remain Range-bound

Thwaite, formerly NatWest’s business banking head, replaces ex-CEO Alison Rose after serving as interim chief since last July. His priorities include rebuilding NatWest’s reputation following last year’s controversial account closures that triggered the exits of Rose and wealth management head Peter Flavel.

Read More News:
GBP/USD: Pound unmoved despite hot January retail figures

The incoming CEO will also lead preparations for a planned sale of UK government shares in the bank, which retains a 35% taxpayer stake after its £45.5 billion bailout during the financial crisis.

While posting its highest profit figures since the rescue, NatWest noted intensifying competition and risks of customer defaults were squeezing profit margins. The lender set aside £578 million for potential bad loans in 2023 – up from £337 million the previous year.