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RBS warns cap on bonuses will lead to exodus of top staff

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The government was on a collision course with the board of Royal Bank of Scotland after the bank said moves to cap bonuses to investment bankers would result in an exodus of top-rated staff. In a game of brinkmanship ahead of multi-million pound bonus awards next year, RBS said it would suffer a "significant competitive disadvantage" and face "increased risks" if ministers attempted to restrict the size of the bonus pool available to key staff. The row erupted after the publication of documents showing, as part of the terms of its deal to insure bad debts, the government wants to dictate both the "quantum and shape" of the payouts at the bank for 2009.

 

Executives at the bank made it clear that ministers demanded control over the size of bonus payouts as the price of the bailout. RBS, despite losing billions of pounds during the financial crisis, has made significant profits in its investment banking businesses in the last year after strong demand in areas such as bond sales and debt restructuring. Like Goldman Sachs and other rival banks, RBS staff expect to receive large bonus payments as a reward for boosting profits. However, ministers have become increasingly uneasy at the potential size of bonuses traders could receive only months before an election next year. Last year the bank paid some £900m in bonuses. Recent estimates put the figure for 2009 closer to £1.5bn.

 

Lord Myners, the City minister, has delivered a series of searing speeches in recent months criticising investors and bankers for ignoring the support provided by the taxpayer over the last two years without which the sector would have been unable to survive.

 

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RBS warns cap on bonuses will lead to exodus of top staff | Business | guardian.co.uk


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