Shareholders support RBS pay report

Sir Philip HamptonRoyal Bank of Scotland has seen its pay report overwhelmingly backed as the taxpayer-backed bank reassured its investors it wanted to become "a bank that is built to last".

Some 99.3% of shareholder votes went in favour of the remuneration report, although this includes UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which manages the state's 82% stake.
Shareholder group Pensions and Investment Research Consultants (Pirc) had urged its members to vote against the "excessive pay" at the bank, despite chief executive Stephen Hester waiving his £963,000 annual bonus for 2011.

But the board faced tough questions from shareholders on share price, dividends, bonuses for senior staff and morale at its annual meeting in Edinburgh.

RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton also revealed the group had taken a £1.3 billion write down on its Greek sovereign debt, to which it is no longer exposed.

In a heated question and answer session, Marie Kearnan, a member of staff and shareholder, said morale had been impacted by a pay freeze for more than 28,000 on-the-ground staff this year, while executives received bumper pay rises.

She said: "It feels to me and my colleagues that RBS has little respect for us. This is no way for a respectable organisation to conduct itself."

Sir Philip said: "I have a lot of sympathy with some of the criticisms that are made about excessive top levels of executive pay, in the City particularly. But I can only tell you that our own pay levels tend to be at the lowest end of that particular spectrum."

Discussing Mr Hester's bonus award, Sir Philip added: "I have made clear that it is a matter of personal regret that we failed to anticipate the scale of the public reaction to the issue."

RBS paid £785 million in bonuses last year, including £390 million for its 17,000 investment bankers.

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