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British bank bosses take pay cuts amid coronavirus fallout

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Via Yahoo Finance

By Iain Withers, Lawrence White and Sinead Cruise

LONDON (Reuters) – Top executives at British lenders HSBC <HSBA.L>, Standard Chartered <STAN.L> and NatWest <RBS.L> said on Wednesday they would take salary cuts after pressure on bankers to show solidarity with customers struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus crisis.

Lloyds <LLOY.L> said all its executives – including CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio – had asked not to be considered for bonuses for 2020, but none took pay cuts or donated some of their salary to charity, unlike directors at the other three banks.

HSBC said its CEO Noel Quinn and CFO Ewen Stevenson would donate 25% of their salary for the next 6 months to charity and forego their cash bonuses, totalling 1.4 million pounds and 800,000 pounds respectively.

Chairman Mark Tucker will also donate his entire director’s fee for 2020, amounting to 1.5 million pounds according to the bank’s annual report.

Standard Chartered said its CEO Bill Winters and CFO Andy Halford would waive their cash bonuses for this year and make “significant” personal donations to the lender’s COVID-19 Assistance fund.

Winters has donated 825,000 pounds, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Standard Chartered reiterated that no staff would be laid off as a result of the pandemic.

The CEO and the chairman of NatWest, formerly known as Royal Bank of Scotland, have taken a 25% cut in salary for the rest of the year.

Alison Rose, who became CEO of the state-backed bank last year, has also told the board she does not want to be considered for up to 1.9 million pounds worth of bonuses this year, RBS said.

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“We are fully focused here at the bank on doing everything we can to provide financial support and advice to our customers in these very challenging times,” RBS Chairman Howard Davies said.

The fixed pay money forfeited – which totals 559,000 pounds ($692,433) – will be given to the National Emergencies Trust. NatWest has not halted all redundancies and is pressing ahead with cuts to its investment bank.

BANK CRITICISM

The moves come after rival lenders Barclays <BARC.L> and TSB, the British unit of Spain’s Sabadell <SABE.MC>, said on Tuesday their senior executives would give up some pay.

The Bank of England piled pressure on banks last week by requesting all major lenders scrap cash bonus payments to executives and risk takers, as part of efforts to conserve capital that also included ditching dividends.

Britain’s banks, which were saved by taxpayer funds in 2008, have faced criticism during the virus outbreak for not providing support fast enough to customers in financial difficulty.

The lenders have argued they are doing what they can and that early versions of the government relief schemes they were asked to deliver were flawed.

NatWest remains 62% owned by taxpayers following its 45 billion pound state bailout in the 2008 financial crisis.

(Reporting by Iain Withers, Lawrence White and Sinead Cruise; editing by David Evans, Kirsten Donovan)

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