Belfast Telegraph

RBS pay revolt fails

By Holly Williams

The controversial £7.7m pay package awarded to Royal Bank of Scotland's boss is expected to be given the all-clear by the Government despite a 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 chief executive Stephen Hester's pay emerged last month.

It was revealed that he was awarded an additional £4.5m potential shares windfall on top of his £2m annual bonus and £1.2m 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 - £375m last year. News of the awards came after annual figures showed the bank remained in the red last year, with losses of £1.1bn 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 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 of the award.

UKFI's only vote against the bank's remuneration report came in 2009 in a protest over former chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin's pension deal.