Royal Bank of Scotland top bankers received millions despite £3.5bn loss

RBS building

Royal Bank of Scotland paid 128 of its top bankers more than €1m (£720,000) in 2014, a year when it reported its seventh consecutive year of losses since being bailed out by the taxpayer and was punished by regulators for rigging foreign exchange markets.

Three bankers, whose identities are protected because only the pay deals of boardroom directors have to be published, received up to €6m.

The disclosures are likely to reignite the controversy over the pay handed out by the bank, which has incurred losses on a par with the £45bn ploughed in by taxpayers to prevent it going bust. None of the 79% stake has yet to been sold off although George Osborne has promised to sell it as “quickly as we can” if he remains chancellor after the 7 May election.

Chief executive Ross McEwan was paid £1.8m in salary, pension and benefits in 2014 and was handed £1.5m in shares to buy him out of his previous employer in Australia when he was recruited to run the retail bank. He was awarded £1.5m of shares under a long-term plan that will pay out in the future. The pay of the New Zealander, though, was eclipsed by a number of colleagues.

The newly recruited finance director Ewen Stevenson received £3.1m after being bought out of his previous employer, Credit Suisse, and Rory Cullinan, who runs the non-core division of the bank, received £2.2m from bonuses handed out in previous years. Cullinan, who has been promoted to help wind down the investment banking arm, cashed in £1.2m of shares and was awarded £2m in a new pay deal.

The bank published share payouts and awarded to the members of the executive management team who do not sit on the board. When share awards to McEwan and Stevenson are included, eight senior managers were awarded shares worth £11m which will payout in the future. In total more than £5m of shares were cashed in from previous years.

The bank said the 128 paid more than €1m compares with 149 a year ago when the staff who have relocated to the US through its Citizens Financial arm, in the process of being floated in the US stock market, are included.

The pay disclosures detail £858,847 of shares that were handed to Stephen Hester, whom McEwan replaced in September 2013, in March 2014 under the terms of his departure package. Next week Hester stands to receive 785,995 shares - potentially worth £3m - although his colleagues were handed 61% when performance criteria were applied. It is not clear whether Hester or any of his former top management colleagues have any of their pay withheld as a result of the on-going review by the bank into the events that led to its fines foreign exchange rigging when it was part of a £2.6bn settlement.

But Sir Sandy Crombie, the non-executive director who chairs the remuneration committee, said that the overall bonus pool of £421m - announced last week - had been reduced to cover the rigging of foreign exchange markets and as well as the IT meltdown in 2012 for which the bank was fined £56m last year. Some £588m had been paid out in bonuses the year before.

Some pay had also been clawed back. “Malus has been applied as part of our accountability review process,” said Crombie.

Analysts at Macquarie said, after digesting its latest results showing a £3.5bn loss, said: “RBS has now delivered seven consistent loss making years (is that a record?) losing a cumulative £50bn (equal to £2,700 per UK household). And yet despite that, management still indicates a further £6.25bn-£7.25bn in required restructuring charges and believes that we are five years from the promised land. We are all in favour of long-term investing, but this is getting absurd”.

Powered by article was written by Jill Treanor, for The Guardian on Friday 6th March 2015 16.38 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


JefferiesAnd the Best Place to Work in the global financial markets 2017 is...

Register for Financial Markets News Alerts