RBS and the government had hoped to sell a first batch of shares toward the end of this year but unexpected costs for settling litigation and regulatory disputes disrupted that plan.
The eventual timing of any sale would be up to the government, he added. The taxpayer owns 81% of RBS after investing pounds 45bn in its shares to prevent the bank collapsing in 2008.
Selling the first tranche of shares before next May's election would let the chancellor boast he was on the road to getting money back from both bank rescues.
RBS's pounds 3.8bn of costs for litigation, fines and compliance and pounds 4.8bn of losses on troubled assets contributed to the vast pounds 8.24bn annual loss - more than pounds 22m a day. However, RBS intends to pay pounds 576m in bonuses for last year. The bonus pool is down 15% from 2012, and only pounds 2,000 per person will be paid out in cash with the rest in deferred shares - but the decision revived uproar over pay at a bank kept afloat by taxpayers.
McEwan acknowledged that the bonus figure was "highly emotional" but insisted he needed to hold on to his best people to revive RBS, which owns
Bankers' bonuses continue to plague the industry.
McEwan, who has turned down his bonus for 2013, declined to say whether RBS would ask shareholders, including the government, for permission to circumvent the EU cap this year. "The board has not opined," he said.
RBS shares fell 7.74% to 326.6p, wiping more than pounds 3bn off its value. It now has a stock market value of pounds 37bn.
RBS had warned last month that its pretax loss would be about pounds 8bn but investors were unnerved by an operating loss of pounds 2.3bn - worse than the pounds 1.7bn analysts expected.
McEwan, who took over in October after
* Refocusing on
* Shrinking RBS from seven businesses into three: personal and business banking, commercial and private banking, and corporate and institutional banking.
* Simplifying products for retail and small business customers, including scrapping "teaser rates" and 0% credit card transfers. He said it was "abhorrent" that new customers got a better deal than longstanding clients and said customers hated such schemes.
* Cutting costs because the bank is "too expensive and too bureaucratic".
McEwan's plan will cut out large swaths of head office and administrative staff. Declining to put a figure on potential job cuts, he also said that RBS - which employs 120,000 people - could scrap more businesses that customers did not need. The bank has already quit equity capital markets, mergers and acquisitions and structured finance.
McEwan refused to be drawn on RBS's plans for a possible yes vote to Scottish independence in September, saying: "This is an issue for
McEwan's neutrality was compromised by an assessment of the consequences of independence on page 140 of the results that warned a yes vote for a separate
RBS losses included pounds 3.8bn of costs for litigation, fines and compliance Photograph:
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