NatWest bank doubles quarterly net profit

LONDON (AFP/APP): British bank NatWest said Thursday that net profit more than doubled in the first quarter as the UK economy started to recover from the Covid pandemic.

Profit after tax jumped to £620 million ($862 million, 713 million euros) in the three months to March, aided by a release of impairment provisions due to the improving economy, NatWest said in a statement. That compared with net profit of £288 million in the same period of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic erupted.

“NatWest Group’s profit in the first quarter of 2021 is a result of a good operating performance in our core franchises, as well as modest impairment releases that reflect the better-than-expected performance of our loan book,” said chief executive Alison Rose.

“Defaults remain low as a result of the UK government support schemes and there are reasons for optimism with the vaccine programmes progressing at pace and restrictions being eased.

“However, there is continuing uncertainty for our economy and for many of our customers as a result of Covid-19,” she added.

NatWest revealed it had released £102 million of cash that it had previously set aside for loans that might not be repaid due to coronavirus fallout.

The performance of NatWest, like rival Lloyds Banking Group, hinges on the performance of the domestic British economy because both have core UK retail operations.