British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that branch closures are a commercial matter for Royal Bank of Scotland Group (LON:RBS), Reuters has reported. The comments came after news emerged recently that the lender’s plans to close more than a third of its branches in Scotland are to be investigated by a parliamentary committee.
RBS’ share price has been steady in today’s session, finding support in expectations for a rate hike by the US Federal Reserve at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting later today. As of 13:43 GMT, the shares were changing hands 0.21 percent higher at 281.50p, marginally outperforming the benchmark FTSE 100 index which currently stands 0.12 percent higher at 7,509.21 points.
Theresa May weighs in on branch closures
Reuters reported today that Theresa May had said that branch closures announced by RBS were a commercial matter for the bank, after she was asked to intervene to halt the closures. Scottish National Party leader at Westminster Ian Blackford asked the PM to tell the lender’s boss Chief Executive Ross McEwan not to carry through his plan to close 259 RBS and NatWest branches. The government is still the biggest shareholder in the bailed-out lender following the £45.5-billion taxpayer-funded rescue during the financial crisis.
“The decision to open and close branches is a commercial decision taken by the banks without intervention from the government,” May said in parliament, as quoted by Reuters. “But we do recognise the impact this has on communities and the Secretary of State for Scotland has raised concerns […] with RBS.”
The lender announced the closures earlier this month, arguing that an increasing number of customers were turning to online and mobile banking.