The Royal Bank of Scotland Group posts pre-tax profits of £4.401m for the year 2000, an increase of 31%.

Chairman Viscount Younger of Leckie said the takeover of Natwest in March last year had helped to boost the group's performance.

“The acquisition of Natwest has created a larger group that combines scale and financial strength with an innovation and growth culture, and gives us strategic options to create additional value for shareholders.

“These results demonstrate our determination and ability to deliver to the full potential of the enlarged group.”

Staff are to benefit from the performance of the group, and will receive a profit share totalling £150m.

Fred Goodwin, group chief executive, said improvements to products and services had reduced the number of complaints by 15%.

“Three quarters of customers say Natwest is changing for the better,” he said. “As a result, we have seen a significant increase in the amount of new business, while the personal customer base has risen by over 200,000.”

Direct Line Insurance Group was the top performer within the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, posting a pre-tax profit of £201m, double last year's figure.