RBS Reaches Deal To Award £550m Bonus Pot
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is to pay approximately £550m in staff bonuses for 2013 after securing the agreement of the Treasury agency that is its biggest shareholder.
Sky News has learnt that the taxpayer-backed bank will disclose the sum - which is higher than previous reports had suggested - alongside its annual results on Thursday.
The bonus pot for 2013 is certain to reignite a row over pay at RBS because it will also announce a loss for the year estimated at £8bn, the biggest since its bail-out by the Government in 2008.
UK Financial Investments (UKFI), the body which manages taxpayers' stake in the bank, is understood to have signed off on the payments in recent days.
The sum of around £550m will represent a fall on the 2012 bonus pot of £679m of just under 20%, which Chancellor George Osborne is expected to cite as evidence that RBS is exhibiting restraint on bonus payments.
Last year's figure was further reduced by £72m to £607m because of the clawback of previous years' deferred bonuses, undertaken as a consequence of RBS's £390m fine for its role in the Libor-rigging scandal.
RBS is expected to have reduced the 2013 bonus pool by at least £25m under a commitment it gave 12 months ago to reduce bonuses in subsequent years.
It is unclear whether RBS will also announce a plan on Thursday to seek shareholder approval at its annual general meeting in May to allow it to pay bonuses worth double the value of senior employees' basic salaries.
Other UK banks are planning to do so, but RBS found itself at the centre of another political row last month when Labour leader Ed Miliband urged David Cameron to use the Government's stake to block any such request.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Cameron told Sky News: "With our particular responsibility for RBS, I can tell you that I don't only want to see the level of pay and bonuses come down overall, I want to see it come down per-person, per-capita as well."
The Prime Minister said last month that new European rules on bankers' pay, which the Government is challenging, could exacerbate the riskiness of banks.
He said: "This European directive... in some ways might make things worse, because you could see rates of pay go up.
"You can claw back a bonus, the taxpayer can get the money back. You can't claw back [basic] pay."
Thursday's bonus announcement will come as Ross McEwan, RBS's new chief executive, unveils a plan that will mean the bank's 120,000-strong workforce shrinking to barely two-thirds of that number following the sale and closure of several business units.
RBS and UKFI declined to comment.
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