By Andrew MacAskill
LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland <RBS.L> is planning to cut about 900 jobs in Britain, sources familiar with the process said, taking the total number of layoffs in the last four months to around 5 percent of the bank's British workforce.
The latest cuts at RBS are in information technology and back office positions that support the commercial, retail and private bank, the sources said.
RBS, which is 73-percent state-owned, is in the midst of a major restructuring aimed at returning the bank to profit after eight straight years of losses. The Edinburgh-based bank was rescued with a 46 billion-pound ($67.82 billion) state bailout during the 2007-09 financial crisis.
The bank confirmed some staff would lose their jobs but declined to give specific numbers, pointing to its long-stated ambition to shrink from the world's biggest bank by assets into a much leaner, UK-focused commercial and retail bank.
"We understand how difficult this is for our staff and will be offering as much support as we can including redeployment to other roles where possible," the bank said in a statement to Reuters.Chief Executive Ross McEwan has already cut thousands of jobs partly in response to low interest rates and slowing economic growth which have pushed RBS and several of its UK rivals to take out costs. RBS had 64,000 staff in Britain as of December 2015.
The RBS staff affected by this latest round of redundancies work in cities across Britain, including London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham.
At least 100 jobs are being transferred to India, where people can perform the same role on lower salaries, the sources said.
The latest cuts mean RBS has axed at least 2,700 staff across the country since the beginning of March. Most layoffs have fallen on its branch network, where the bank had earlier announced plans to cut about one in every 10 jobs in 2016.
More cuts are expected to be announced in the coming months, the sources said.
The RBS cuts come just days before Britain heads to the polls to vote on membership of the European Union. Some banks have warned they may have to cut even more jobs if the country opts out of the 28-nation bloc.
Up to 100,000 financial services jobs could be lost over the next five years if Britain votes to leave the EU, according to a study commissioned by trade body TheCityUK.
RBS Chairman Howard Davies last month said the bank was preparing for a potential phase of economic instability following a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.
(Reporting By Andrew MacAskill, editing by Sinead Cruise and Jane Merriman)