Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

RBS chief's pay set to win approval

The controversial pay package awarded to Stephen Hester is expected to be given the all-clear by the Government

The controversial £7.7 million pay package awarded to Royal Bank of Scotland boss Stephen Hester is expected to be given the all-clear by the Government despite widespread backlash over the deal.

UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which manages the Government's bank assets, is reportedly planning to give its backing when shareholders cast their vote on RBS pay plans at the group's annual meeting in Edinburgh.

The move could see RBS, which is 83% owned by the taxpayer, attract further public outrage after details of the chief executive's pay emerged last month.

It was revealed that he was awarded an additional £4.5 million potential shares windfall on top of his £2 million annual bonus and £1.2 million salary for 2010, which was not originally revealed under the Project Merlin agreement with the Government to rein in pay.

RBS also admitted it paid 323 code staff - those deemed to be in risk-sensitive roles - £375 million last year.

News of the awards came after annual figures showed the bank remained in the red last year, with losses of £1.1 billion in 2010.

Advisory group Pirc has already slammed the group's executive pay plans and is recommending shareholders oppose the remuneration report at the AGM.

It said new long-term incentive awards of up to 400% of salary were "excessive" and noted that RBS pays above average for both its highest paid director and average executive salary.

MPs on the Commons Public Accounts Committee also attacked Mr Hester's pay at a hearing last month. Mr Hester told the committee his reward was "at the low end" of pay in the industry, "albeit at the high end of society" when asked to justify the deal.

However, UKFI is understood to be planning to give its seal of approval, having been consulted in advance if the award.

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