UBS pays £17m 'golden hello' to the man who broke RBS

Andrea Orcel paid in cash and shares after being poached by the Swiss bank
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The Independent Online

UBS faces fresh outrage about banker pay after it emerged it has paid one of the men behind the disastrous sale of ABN Amro to Royal Bank of Scotland a Sfr25m (£17m) golden hello.

The payment to Andrea Orcel, the Swiss bank's new head of investment banking, comes in the year the firm was hit by record fines for Libor rigging.

Mr Orcel, who was poached from Bank of America Merrill Lynch to clear up in the wake of the Kweku Adoboli rogue trader scandal, received a cash payment of $6.4m and UBS shares worth Sfr18.5m to replace his previous bonus schemes.

The Italian whom some call the George Clooney of banking because of his good looks is seen by UBS as key to plans to repair the bank, which took the biggest state bailout of any European bank during the crisis of 2008-9.

While at Merrill Lynch he and another banker, Matthew Greenburgh, advised RBS's then chief executive, Fred Goodwin, on the takeover of ABN Amro, a deal that was largely responsible for RBS's implosion and its subsequent bailout by the taxpayer. He admitted in January that with the benefit of hindsight he would have advised RBS against the deal. "With what I know today … we would not have advised them to proceed," he told the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

UBS said in its annual report that Mr Orcel's payment was designed "as a replacement for deferred compensation and benefits forfeited by his previous employer as a result of his joining UBS", and that his cash and share payments are subject to future clawbacks.

Mr Orcel, 49, joined UBS as joint head of its investment bank last July and became sole head in November. He is overseeing a restructuring of UBS with as many as 2,000 jobs going this year as it reduces its investment banking activities.

Adoboli was jailed last November for fraud and false accounting. The bank lost more than $2bn, and its then chief executive, Oswald Grübel, resigned.

The new chief executive Sergio Ermotti's pay package went up from Sfr6.35m to Sfr8.87m. With a base salary of Sfr2.5m and bonuses totalling Sfr6.1m, he would fall foul of the recent referendum of Swiss people which could see such huge bonuses outlawed. The referendum decreed that all Swiss companies' remuneration packages must be put to a binding shareholder vote and could ban all golden hellos and golden parachutes.

Last year UBS suffered a bloody nose when holders of 37 per cent of its shares voted against the bank's compensation report.

UBS said it cut its overall bonus pool by 7 per cent for 2102 and that of its investment bank by 20 per cent to reflect the Libor fine. It also said none of its executive board members had been paid any part of their bonuses in cash and were all subject to clawbacks.