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NatWest chief scrambles to defend ‘restrained’ £298m bonus pot – ‘Very strong performance’

NatWest Chief Exec defends £298m bonus pot

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NatWest’s Chief Exec Alison Rose has been facing criticism since announcing the annual results for 2021. Ms Rose defended paying out the bonuses, claiming that the pool was lower than previous years and based on a “very strong performance” over the past year.  But the decision sparked backlash due to the organisation being 52 percent-owned by the taxpayers who will be facing a significant increase in expenditures due to the worsening cost of living crisis.

BBC Radio 4 business reporter Felicity Hannah said: “You must be pretty pleased with those, but many people will be tightening their belts, just now.

“And they will be a little bit hostile potentially to banker bonuses, you’re about to pay £298m in bonuses.

“And you’re majority-owned by the taxpayer, how do you justify those payments?”

Ms Rose said: “We’re very please with the financial performance and the return to profitability.

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Ms Rose added: “That’s really a sign of how well our customers are performing, in terms of how we’re supporting them.

“As you say, we need to make sure that we’re rewarding fairly.

“Our bonus pool is £298m, that is actually down from the pre-Covid pool of 2019.”

Ms Hannah noted: “It is up from the previous year.”

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Ms Rose added: “Yes when we quite rightly reduced it very significantly reflecting the performance of the bank at that time.

“We made a loss so there is a very very significant reduction, and also mindful of the situation the economy was in.

“But what we’re seeing today is a very strong performance by the bank.

“4.3b profit and we have announced dividends today, which means that we have paid over the last year 3.8b announced and declared of which 1.7b is going back to the Government.”

NatWest managed to increase its bonus pool by 44 percent.

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Ms Hannah later wrote on Twitter: “Speaking to me for @BBCr4today’s business news, NatWest Group’s Chief Exec Alison Rose defended the £298m bonus pot, calling it “restrained”.

“She said it reflected the group’s strong performance – £4.32bn profit before tax. She said struggling customers should “come & talk to us.””

Investment manager Zoe Gillespie said: “NatWest has beaten expectations again and looks set to continue on its positive trajectory.

“The net impairment release of nearly £1.3 billion, bumper profits, and strong capital reserves point to a bank in good health.

“The increased dividend and share buyback programme suggest NatWest’s management team are optimistic about the year ahead while rising interest rates should only benefit its core business.

“NatWest is now much more attractive as an investment prospect, notwithstanding the likelihood of the government winding down its substantial stake in the bank.”

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