Royal Bank of Scotland to pay top executives £28m bonuses

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The Independent Online

Royal Bank of Scotland's chief executive Stephen Hester is in line to earn a total of £7.7m for 2010, the nationalised bank revealed last night.

Mr Hester is the top earner out of nine RBS executives who are in line to share up to £28m of bonuses share-plan awards, at current prices, on top of their salaries.

The decision to pay out tens of millions to the RBS executives will fuel anger about top bankers' pay, after Barclays announced it has awarded its chief executive Bob Diamond a £6.5m bonus for 2010.

The banks had agreed to exercise restraint on bonuses in a deal with the Government that was meant to draw a line under outrage over their rewards.

RBS said it had set aside 10.1 million of its own shares, worth £4.5m at current prices, for Mr Hester under the bank's long-term incentive plan (LTIP). The award is on top of Mr Hester's £1.2m salary and £2.04m bonus already announced for last year.

The LTIP shares and Mr Hester's all-share bonus will pay out over the next three years, according to his performance against targets.

Mr Hester's windfall could be much less than the £4.5m figure if he does not meet his targets but could be higher if he meets all his targets and the share price increases substantially.

The next biggest earner after Mr Hester is chief financial officer Bruce van Saun, whose bonus and shares are worth £4.2m.

The US chief Ellen Alemany's equivalent payout is £3.6m.

Last year, Mr Hester turned down an annual bonus, but he received 8.5 million shares under the LTIP plan. He has admitted that his own mother thinks he is overpaid, but he has stressed that to get RBS back on its feet, it has to pay enough to attract and keep the best people.

An RBS spokesman said: "These awards follow exhaustive consultation with our shareholders and we believe they appropriately balance demonstrating restraint while remaining fully supportive of our leadership through the RBS turnaround plan."

RBS made a loss of more than £1bn last year and is 83 per cent-owned by taxpayers after the Government bailout saved it from collapse in October 2008.

The announcement on executive pay is normally included in the company's annual report, which RBS will publish next week. It may reveal more rewards for some fo the top executives under a scheme to pay them in bonds. The bank rushed out the figures yesterday because it was required to do so under Stock Exchange rules.

Mr Hester replaced Sir Fred Goodwin after the 2008 bailout and has set about dismantling his predecessor's empire.

Targets for his share payout comprise shareholder returns, economic profit, balance-sheet strength and progress against the bank's massive sell-off of assets and businesses.

RBS shares rose 1.4 per cent to 44.38p yesterday, below the average price paid by the Government for the shares it bought when it shored up the bank's finances.