The private banking arm of RBS has posted an operating profit of £63m for the fourth quarter of 2018, versus a loss of £5m in the previous year.

The division’s total income for the quarter ended 31 December 2018 was £198m, up 4% from £191m in the same quarter of 2017.

The increase in income was attributed to lending growth and higher funding benefits from deposit balances.

Operating expenses at the private banking arm slumped 26% year-on-year to £143m from £194 last year.

Excluding strategic, litigation and conduct costs, operating expenses rose 5% on a year-on-year basis.

The private banking division forms part of RBS’ Commercial & Private Banking unit, which includes its Coutts UK brand.

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Group performance up

Overall, the banking group’s attributable profit for the fourth quarter of 2018 was £286m, as against a loss of £579m a year ago.

The group’s annual profit was £1.62bn. This is more than double compared to last year’s figure of £752m.

Operating expenses for the quarter were £2.47bn, a 27% plunge from £3.4bn last year.  Total income remained stable at £3.06bn.

The group’s litigation and conduct costs for the three months to December 2018 were £92m. In the corresponding quarter of 2017, the same was £764m.

RBS CEO Ross McEwan said: “This is a good performance in the face of economic and political uncertainty, with bottom line profits more than doubled from the previous year.

“We are also announcing an intention to pay back more capital to shareholders and almost £1 billion is set to be returned to UK taxpayers for 2018.

“With strong capital and liquidity levels, we are well positioned to support the UK economy. Our total lending to business and commercial customers reached over £100 billion at the end of 2018.”