Wanless made first move to lure Sandler to NatWest

DEREK WANLESS, the former group chief executive of National Westminster Bank, tried to lure Ron Sandler, the former chief executive at Lloyd's of London insurance market, to the bank just days before Mr Wanless was ousted last month.

Correspondence suggests Mr Sandler, who subsequently joined NatWest as chief operating officer, held out for an improved pay offer, eventually pocketing pounds 40,000 a year more than the pounds 410,000 basic salary Mr Wanless had offered. The details of the behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings are revealed in letters at NatWest's soliticors, Linklaters & Alliance, to Mr Sandler from Mr Wanless and Chris Wathen, the bank's director of group human resources.

NatWest, subject to a pounds 22bn hostile bid from Bank of Scotland, ditched Mr Wanless on 8 October. Yesterday, the director-general of Fair Trading extended the competition review period for BoS's bid by 15 days to 3 December, bringing it into line with Takeover Panel's bid timetable.

Mr Wanless' abrupt removal after almost 30 years with the high-street bank was engineered principally by David Rowland, NatWest's chairman, who had worked with Mr Sandler at Lloyd's.

In a letter dated 1 October, Mr Wanless offered Mr Sandler pounds 410,000 annual pay, plus a bonus "which will normally provide for an award of up to 60 per cent of basic salary", and a range of other health, car and pension benefits.

"Following our discussions, the chairman and I are pleased to offer you an appointment," Mr Wanless wrote, adding that he anticipated that there would be no objections from either the Financial Services Authority or the Takeover Panel. Details of Mr Sandler's written reply, if any was made, were not available.

A letter from Mr Wathen dated 14 October informed Mr Sandler that after less than a week in his post, he would be paid a basic salary of pounds 450,000 "in recognition of the increase in your responsibilities since the original offer was made". The guaranteed bonus payment for his time at the bank this year was increased to pounds 112,500 from pounds 102,500, Mr Wathen wrote. Mr Rowland has taken over the responsibilities of the chief executive at NatWest until a successor to Mr Wanless is found.

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