RBS shareholders approve CEO pay deal
Royal Bank of Scotland shareholders backed a huge pay package for chief executive Stephen Hester Tuesday, thanks to support from the body which manages the taxpayers' 83-percent stake in the lender.
Hester will earn up to £7.7 million ($12.6 million, 8.8 million euros) for his work in 2010, the bailed-out bank announced last month, sparking a backlash from unions and opposition politicians who said it was excessive.
Shareholders were asked to vote on the package at the group's annual meeting in Edinburgh, where many asked angry questions about bonuses. But in the end the remuneration package was approved by 99.18 percent, the bank said.
RBS chairman Philip Hampton said the vote showed shareholders believed the bank had "struck an appropriate balance between the necessary reform to how we pay, with the equal necessity to reward our people competitively".
UK Financial Investments, which manages the taxpayers' stake in the bank following its bailout during the financial crisis, had defended the deal.
RBS revealed last month that Hester would be able to earn an extra bonus of up to £4.5 million in shares under the bank's long-term incentive plan, on top of his £2 million annual bonus and £1.2 million salary.
One shareholder at Tuesday's meeting said the bonuses paid out by the bank were "obscene", adding: "You should not be paying yourselves anything until the debt is paid off to the government and to the people."
David Hillman, spokesman for the Robin Hood Tax campaign which wants a greater distribution of wealth, commented: "It's time the government stepped into the breach to ensure banks pay their fair share back to society instead of constantly lining their own pockets."
© 2011 AFP