The payout, subject to the finalisation of a $4.9billion (£3.77billion) settlement over claims RBS mis-sold toxic US mortgage-backed securities, is likely to be followed by further returns to investors from next year, and pave the way for government to sell down the 62.4 per cent taxpayer stake in the bank.
The interim dividend of 2p will mean the Treasury receiving £149million out of a total £240million payout. The average price paid to rescue RBS was 502p and Chancellor Philip Hammond was forced to defend the sale of a 7.7 per cent stake at 271p earlier this year, which meant a £2.1billion loss to the taxpayer.
RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said the bank would need to assess the potential impact of Brexit before making further major payouts, adding: “Our intention has always been to get capital back into the hands of shareholders.”
He pointed out that the resumption of dividends would broaden its appeal to investors, including income funds which have been previously precluded.
The bank’s half-year pre-tax operating profit fell from £1.95billion last time to £1.83billion as it took a £801million conduct and litigation charge.
McEwan said: “We are pleased with the progress we’ve made in the first half of 2018 and see these as a good set of results in a more uncertain and highly competitive environment.
“We are also pleased to announce an intention to pay our first dividend in 10 years, subject to a final settlement with the Department of Justice.
“We have saved this bank and now have it in a very good capital and liquidity position.
“We are getting back to focusing on how we really serve our customers better. Our sector is undergoing significant change and we are positioning well to compete.
“We still have a lot to do to achieve our ambition of being the best bank for customers in the UK and Ireland.”
Hargreaves Lansdown’s Nicholas Hyett said: “McEwan will be feeling untouchable – the bank’s back in profit, the Government’s reducing its stake and restarting the dividend was the last major milestone he set himself. It’s impressive.”
Shares rose 7¾p to 257¾p.