RBS risks fury of investors over share sale costs

THE Royal Bank of Scotland may face an investor revolt this week when it asks shareholders to foot the bill for the government scheme to sell its shares in the lender

The Times Aimee Donnellan Published: 21 June 2015

Goldman Sachs will receive just £1 for advising the government on the sales of RBS and Lloyds Banking Group

Goldman Sachs will receive just £1 for advising the government on the sales of RBS and Lloyds Banking Group (Carl Court/Getty) 

THE Royal Bank of Scotland may face an investor revolt this week when it asks shareholders to foot the bill for the government scheme to sell its shares in the lender.

At Tuesday’s annual meeting in Edinburgh, RBS’s directors will ask shareholders to vote in favour of paying the government’s fees — and to provide an indemnity to the Treasury for any liability resulting from the sale.

If investors reject the proposal, George Osborne could force RBS to pick up the bill. However, such an aggressive move would leave RBS in a precarious position with its shareholders.

Edward Firth, an analyst at Macquarie, said: “This was something that should have been handled years ago but wasn’t. You really get the impression that RBS isn’t very disciplined.”

The vote will pave the way for the chancellor’s plan to fast-track a £32bn sale of the government’s 79%stake in RBS — at a loss to the taxpayer. Seven years after the bank was saved from collapse by a £45bn taxpayer rescue, the sale of shares will go ahead within months.

“It’s the right thing to do for British businesses and British taxpayers . . . we may get a lower price than what Labour paid for it,” Osborne said at the Mansion House dinner this month.

Goldman Sachs has won the role of advising the government on the sale of RBS and Lloyds Banking Group. It will be paid just £1 for the role.

RBS may also run into trouble this week over its executive pay. Ross McEwan, the chief executive, has given up a £1m bonus-style “allowance”, but Ewen Stevenson, the bank’s finance director, will receive a package worth £3.1m.

“I don’t think anyone will have a problem with Ross McEwan’s pay, particularly as he gave up his bonus this year. Stevenson, on the other hand, is earning a lot of money in a bailed-out bank,” said a source close to the lender.

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