RBS scraps bonus plan after UK government intervenes

Friday 25 April 2014 16.13
RBS scraps plans to seek permission to pay staff bonuses worth double their fixed pay
RBS scraps plans to seek permission to pay staff bonuses worth double their fixed pay

Part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland has scrapped plans to seek permission to pay staff bonuses worth double their fixed pay after the UK government said it would oppose the move. 

Loss-making RBS said that UK Financial Investments, which manages Britain's 81% stake, told the bank it would vote against the proposal at the lender's annual meeting in June.  

"In these circumstances the board expects such a resolution would fail and will therefore not be brought to the AGM," the bank said today. 

Britain's finance ministry said it had also made it clear to RBS that it would oppose the plan. RBS owns Ulster Bank here.

"RBS is heading in the right direction, but it has not yet completed its restructuring and remains a majority publicly-owned bank. So an increase to the bonus cap cannot be justified and the government made clear it would not have supported such a proposal," a Treasury spokesman said.
              
However, the Treasury said it would support a similar proposal from state-backed Lloyds Banking Group. Lloyds has returned to profit and the government has begun selling shares in the bank, leaving it with a 25% stake.
              
RBS in February posted an £8.2 billion pre-tax loss for 2013 due to restructuring costs and misconduct charges.
              
Under a new European Union rule, which will apply to awards handed out from early 2015, bankers' bonuses can be no higher than fixed pay, or twice that level with shareholder approval.
              
RBS said all its major UK and European competitors had indicated that they would seek approval to award bonuses of up to 200% of salaries, which was "emerging as the sector norm" and something its shareholders had understood as the "best commercial solution" for the bank.
              
But in its annual report, RBS said it had decided not to bring forward such a proposal after UKFI informed the bank of its opposition.
              
RBS is shrinking its investment bank and selling off its US business Citizens to appease lawmakers who want it to focus on lending to British households and businesses.
              
The bank said today that the change in strategy had led to an "exodus of talented staff".
              
RBS said in March it was paying out £576m in staff bonuses for 2013, down 15% on the previous year.
              
Its annual report showed RBS paid one unnamed person more than £5.5m last year and another two were paid more than £4m. The bank said it paid 75 people £1m or more in 2013.
              
Chief executive Ross McEwan, who took up the role last October, could be paid £5.4m a year under a new pay plan.