NatWest owner Royal Bank of Scotland took the first-half profits haul from the UK's five major banking groups to more than 19bn (28.1bn) today.

The Edinburgh-based company, which owns the insurance brands Churchill and Direct Line, said it made profits of 4.51bn (6.66bn) in the first six months of the year, an increase of 23% on a year earlier.

It added that the amount of money set aside to write off bad debts increased 5% to 847m (1,250m), with the figure on the retail side up 19% to 680m (1,004m), mainly as a result of losses on unsecured borrowing such as personal loans.

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