David Cameron calls for faster RBS reform

UK Prime Minister David Cameron with Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh
Image caption UK Prime Minister David Cameron is on a trade visit to India

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called on Royal Bank of Scotland to speed up the overhaul of its business.

Speaking on a trip to India, Mr Cameron said he wanted the largely state-owned bank to "accelerate the adjustments" it was making.

He added he was "keen to examine all possibilities" for putting RBS back into the private sector.

However, he played down reports that the government was preparing to sell its stake in the bank.

RBS is 82%-owned by the tax payer after the government injected £45bn to stop it from collapsing during the financial crisis.

When asked to respond to comments that the government was preparing to sell its stake by 2014, Mr Cameron responded with: "These are all interesting questions for the future."

"The first job is to turn around the performance of RBS and to strengthen its balance sheet, strengthen its business and that's what [RBS chief executive] Stephen Hester and his team are doing."

Mr Hester started the process of reforming the bank in 2009 and said it would take up to five years.

The aim of the overhaul is to make the bank safer and more profitable. It includes selling off its less important businesses and paring back its investment arm. A 30% stake in its insurance business, Direct Line, has already been floated on the stock market.

In November, the bank said that its restructuring plan was on track and would be completed in the next 18 months.

As part of the restructuring, RBS has been struggling to sell more than 300 branches by 2014, at the behest of the European Union, in return for its state aid. A deal with Santander fell through last year. The latest reports suggest that City investors are poised to enter the fray.

The bank was also recently fined for being embroiled in a global rate-rigging scandal. It was fined £390m ($610m) by UK and US authorities, which it intends to pay from past, current and future bonuses.

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