pounds 1.2m deal for departed NatWest chief

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The Independent Online
THE NATWEST director who quit in the wake of last year's pounds 90m options mis-pricing losses is set to receive a package of pounds 1.2m, it emerged yesterday.

This includes a pay-off of more than pounds 300,000, a salary of pounds 150,000 and almost pounds 750,000 in performance-related bonuses, payable next month.

But the chairman and the chief executive of NatWest have waived their 1997 bonuses following the bank's "disappointing" year.

Martin Owen, formerly chief executive of NatWest Markets (NWM), the bank's investment banking arm, resigned last summer and handed back pounds 200,000 - two-fifths of his 1996 bonus after options mis-pricing by a NWM trader left an pounds 90m "black hole" in the bank's accounts.

NatWest's annual report to shareholders, published yesterday, reveals that Dr Owen, a former Salvation Army officer, will next month receive a total of pounds 738,000 because NatWest Markets met "certain performance criteria" between 1995 and 1997. pounds 175,000 of this total relates to the 1995 performance, pounds 214,000 relates to 1996 and pounds 350,000 relates to 1997 - the year not only of the options mis-pricing scandal but also of NatWest's decision to withdraw from certain parts of investment banking.

In addition, Dr Owen received a salary of pounds 150,000 for the six months of last year when he was NWM's chief executive. Under the terms of his contract with NatWest, he also netted a pay-off of more than pounds 300,000 when he resigned, of which pounds 35,000 was taken in cash and is detailed in the bank's reports. The remaining sum - approximately pounds 275,000 - was not disclosed in the annual report and was paid into a personal pension plan.

Derek Wanless, NatWest's chief executive, has waived his 1997 bonus in the light of the bank's performance last year, as has Lord Alexander, chairman, and Paul Myners, responsible for Gartmore, the bank's embattled fund manager.

Mr Wanless's pay for last year totalled pounds 450,000. In 1996, he earned pounds 639,000, including a performance-related bonus of pounds 225,000. Lord Alexander's pay last year was pounds 434,000. In 1996, he received pounds 564,000, including a performance-related bonus of pounds 154,000.

Mr Myners, who is responsible for Gartmore, NatWest's fund manager, received pounds 109,000 last year. In addition, under a Gartmore "short term incentive plan", he received a payment of pounds 333,333 last March. He is entitled to pounds 333,333 this month and a further pounds 333,333 in March 1999.

In addition to their salaries, Mr Wanless and Lord Alexander may be eligible for "medium-term" incentives in the wake of NatWest's recent performance, although they will not be payable until at least 2000.

Martin Gray, chief executive of NatWest UK, the retail bank, received a total of pounds 405,000 last year, including a pounds 105,000 bonus. Richard Delbridge, NatWest's finance director, received pounds 478,000, including a bonus of pounds 140,000.

Last month, NatWest's profits fell by 10 per cent, and the bank admitted to difficulties in several non-core businesses. Before tax, NatWest Markets lost pounds 706m in the year to December, a fall of pounds 804m.

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