Crosby's £2.1m makes him 'worst paid banker'

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The Independent Online

James Crosby, chief executive of banking group HBOS, collected £2.1m in pay and shares last year and saw his pension pot increase by £1.9m. However, Mr Crosby claims to be the worst paid major bank executive in Britain.

James Crosby, chief executive of banking group HBOS, collected £2.1m in pay and shares last year and saw his pension pot increase by £1.9m. However, Mr Crosby claims to be the worst paid major bank executive in Britain.

HBOS posted a 29 per cent increase in profits to £3.77bn for 2003, but Mr Crosby's cash bonus of £310,000 was a 17 per cent drop on his 2002 award. This was because he failed to beat the targets set to measure the company's performance, and he had also enjoyed in 2002 a one-off payment for successfully integrating Halifax with Bank of Scotland to create HBOS.

The £310,000 bonus on top of his basic salary took his pay to just over £1m, but he also reaped £1.1m from a three-year share plan. The rise in his pension fund, now £5.7m, was more than double the £886,000 increase in 2002 and will give him an annual pension of £426,000. A number of banks have recently revealed the pay awards to their top executives. Royal Bank of Scotland paid its chief executive, Fred Goodwin, a bonus of nearly £1m, bringing his total remuneration for the year to £3.4m. Matthew Barrett, at Barclays, saw his annual pay double to £3.9m, which, combined with an injection of nearly £1m to his pension fund, made his package nearly £5m. Sir John Bond, chief executive of HSBC, got £2.1m.

Such awards have provoked outrage from consumer groups, who say banks have exploited the rise in credit card debt to swell their own pockets while charging high rates to customers.

A spokesman for HBOS defended Mr Crosby's pay package, saying he was the lowest paid chief executive of a major bank in the UK and that HBOS had delivered a total shareholder return of 27 per cent, the highest in the sector.

Dennis Stevenson, chairman of the bank, got £510,000 for his services. He is also chairman of Pearson, publisher of the Financial Times, a situation which falls foul of best City practice.

HBOS this week secured Mark Tucker, former head of Prudential's Asian business, as its new finance director, following the retirement of Mike Ellis, aged only 52.

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