NatWest shares drop 13% post Q3 results amid Farage account closure scandal

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NatWest shares drop 13% post Q3 results amid Farage account closure scandal
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The NatWest Group (LON: NWG ) PLC's shares fell by 13% following the announcement of its Q3 FY23 results, amidst a scandal involving the closure of Nigel Farage's Coutts accounts. The bank acknowledged 'serious failings' in managing Farage's confidential information, leading to an apology from Group Chairman Sir Howard Davies. This was revealed by the first phase of the Travers Smith review, which investigated the bank's decision to close Farage's accounts.

Today, the bank reported that its total income rose to £3.488 billion for the quarter. Commercial & Institutional total income grew by 11.1% Y/Y to £1.841 billion, while Private Banking total income saw a 24.9% Y/Y decline to £214 million. Retail Banking total income fell 2.2% Y/Y. The bank also reported an EPS of 9.8p and a net impairment charge of £229 million for Q3 2023, reflecting low stage 3 defaults.

Total assets were reported at £717.1 billion with loans to customers standing at £377.3 billion. The bank maintained its Common Equity Tier 1 at 13.5%, and total assets under management and administration were £38.2 billion. The bank bought back stock worth £1.26B from the UK Government, reducing its stake to 38.6%. NWG shares were last checked at $4.51, down by 11.06%.

The FY23 Outlook projects a total income (excluding notable items) around £14.3 billion and Net Interest Margin (NIM) greater than 3%. The bank's medium-term expectations for CET1 ratio are in the range of 13-14%.

In response to the controversy surrounding Farage's account closure, Travers Smith's review found that former NatWest CEO Alison Rose likely breached Farage's data privacy rights by discussing the closure of his accounts with a journalist, as reported by the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). Following the scandal, Rose resigned, and her exit package may be reduced.

The decision to close Farage's accounts was deemed lawful and policy-compliant, driven by commercial reasons. Coutts considered its relationship with Farage unprofitable and took into account reputational risks. Farage criticized the report on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), calling it a "whitewash".

NatWest Group chairman Howard Davies apologized for not adhering to bank policies in informing Farage about the account closure and promised policy changes. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is conducting supervisory work on both NatWest Group and Coutts due to significant governance, system, and control shortcomings.

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