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Business Comment

Simon English: Did Goodwin have to get hostile with NatWest?

Outlook Perhaps Fred Goodwin doesn't need another nail in the coffin that is his professional and personal reputation. But I have one.

Mr Goodwin's supposedly finest hour, the deal on which his early claim to greatness was based, was the £21bn takeover of NatWest that transformed RBS from some-Scottish-bank to a serious player. Audacious. Bold. Everyone said so at the time, possibly including me.

A banker who worked on that deal offered a different take.

He says that if Mr Goodwin hadn't been so monumentally impossible, so bullying, so arrogant, he could have got the bank for far less without having to make a hostile bid.

The NatWest advisers and the board would have recommended a takeover if only they didn't find that every meeting with the RBS chief executive left them somewhere between baffled and furious.

Perhaps the truth about Mr Goodwin is that he was an awkward fellow who rose to prominence by complete accident.

In the end the deal went through because NatWest's beleaguered investors thought Mr Goodwin couldn't possibly be worse than incumbent chief executive, Derek Wanless.

Mr Wanless is dead, but might be deserving of a posthumous apology.