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Sorry tale from RBS

IT is 11 months since the then RBS boss Stephen Hester talked about "light at the end of the tunnel" at the bank and privatisation "coming much closer".

While chairman Sir Philip Hampton claimed 2014 was a "reasonable target" for starting the public share sell-off, these rosy words offset the grim 2012 figures.

With Hester having since gone and plans to create a "bad bank" for the remaining toxic assets having graduated from dubious rumour to plain fact, last week's profit warning seemed to confirm that the bank's public pronouncements in 2013 were scarcely more reliable than in 2008.

When new chief Ross McEwan unveils last year's results on February 27, we can now expect an £8 billion loss. This includes more than £3bn in provisions (of which nearly £2bn is for US lawsuits), plus increased pots for payment protection insurance and interest rate swaps - the first of which at least would have been foreseeable for some time. Clearly that light at the end of the tunnel was the proverbial oncoming train.

So, what are we to expect from McEwan at the end of the month? Details about the next piece of family silver to go on the block plus warm words about how the improving property market is conveniently boosting prospects. For anyone still listening with credulity, come equipped with a mound of salt.

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