Chief who quit: 'Fred the Shred' earned respect and fear

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The Independent Online

Dubbed 'Fred the Shred' for his approach to banking, Sir Fred Goodwin earned both respect and fear in the City as a leading figure in the financial world.

Sir Fred, 50, who was appointed chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2000, acquired the nickname after displaying a habit for buying a bank and stripping it of its costs - in particular staff - to generate bigger profits. Earlier this year, he asked investors for £12 billion earlier this year to help shore up the group's balance sheet.

And today, as part of the unprecedented banking bail-out, Sir Fred stepped down as the government moved to nationalise the Royal Bank of Scotland - the most senior casualty of Britain's banking crisis .

Sir Fred's take-over tendency led one analyst to describe him as a "megalomaniac". His business efforts, which included buying rival NatWest, were rewarded financially.

Last year the law graduate and chartered accountant was paid £4.2m, including a £2.86m bonus.

He has an £8.37m pension pot that will pay him £579,000 when he reaches the bank's retirement age.

But his position has been under scrutiny since the RBS group was forced to raise £12 billion from investors earlier this year.

RBS has also written off nearly £6 billion from credit crunch-linked investments this year, making it one of the worst UK banks to be affected by the sub-prime loans crisis.

Despite this, insiders suggest he could be entitled to a £2m pay-off if he steps down, although the RBS declined to comment on any potential compensation package.

Sir Fred is known mainly by his reputation - he guards his privacy closely and rarely gives full interviews.

His background is similar to that of Gordon Brown and it is said that he has enjoyed a good relationship with the Prime Minister and was a regular visitor to Downing Street when Mr Brown was Chancellor.

Sir Fred went to grammar school in Paisley before studying law at Glasgow University.

He became a chartered accountant in 1983 rising to partner at Touche Ross five years later.

His subsequent banking career took him to top positions at the Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank after which he joined the board of RBS in 1998.

Among his other roles, Sir Fred is chairman of The Prince's Trust, a non-executive director of Bank of China Limited and a former president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland.

He was knighted in 2004 for his services to banking.

Outside the world of finance, Sir Fred - who is married to Joyce and has two children - lists his interests as restoring vintage cars and playing golf.