Updated August 3 at 8:03pm

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banking

RBS chairman signals further job cuts, branch closures to come

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LONDON - Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, the recipient of the biggest banking bailout in the world, will eliminate more jobs and close additional branches before its restructuring is complete, Chairman Philip Hampton said.

“We’ve got to have our branches where our customers are, not always where we have had them for decades,” Hampton said at the lender’s annual general meeting in Edinburgh Tuesday. “We have work to do over the coming years to get our business in the right shape to deliver these ambitions, and that could mean further impacts on employees.”

Hampton and CEO Stephen Hester are struggling to turn around the 81 percent government-owned bank and begin the process of returning it to private ownership before the next general election, due in 2015. The bank, which has announced 37,000 job cuts since its bailout, employed about 123,000 people at the end of March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

“Banks need to get more efficient,” Hampton said on sidelines of the meeting. “That will mean, from time to time, job losses.”

RBS will complete the bulk of its restructuring next year, allowing the government to start selling down its stake by the end of 2014, Hampton said.

The bank has about 18 months to get its capital ratios “in the final shape that we and our regulators want,” RBS said in a statement.

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