What has Stephen Hester achieved?
- 27 January 2012
- From the section Business
Royal Bank of Scotland boss Stephen Hester has been strongly criticised for his bonus of close to £1m.
The UK taxpayer owns 82% of RBS after the government bailed out the bank at the end of 2008 - when it reported the largest annual loss in UK corporate history of £24.1bn.
For RBS, which can trace its history back almost 300 years, that was its first full-year loss.
It subsequently made a loss of £3.6bn loss in 2009, and £1.13bn in 2010.
Mr Hester - who took over running the bank from Sir Fred Goodwin in November 2008 - has said he is in the midst of implementing a five-year plan to restore the state-owned bank to normality.
He takes his £1.2m base salary, and was awarded £6.5m worth of shares as a bonus last year.
What have been some of his achievements?
On the more positive side, there are several to note.
- The bank is now making money. For the first nine months of 2011, RBS made pre-tax profits of £1.2bn.
- The bank says that all of its core businesses are now profitable, other than its Northern Irish unit, Ulster Bank.
- RBS's ratio of assets - loans and investments - to its loss-absorbing equity capital is a fraction more than 20 times, down from 50 times in the autumn of 2008 when it was rescued. (According to the BBC's business editor Robert Peston, in 2008 a fall in the value of its assets of just 2% was enough to sink it. Today, its assets would have to be written down by 5%.)
- RBS's balance sheet has been reduced by more than £600bn since 2008.
- RBS has lent more than £68bn to UK companies in the nine months to September 2011, including over 40p in every £1 lent to small businesses in the UK compared with a much lower customer market share.
- The bank's ratio of the loans it has made to deposits is 112%, down from 154% more than three years ago.
- It has increased its portfolio of liquid assets (which it assets that can supposedly be turned into cash in a crisis) from £155bn to £170bn.
But critics of Mr Hester also have some points.
- Mr Hester has conceded that it will take longer than the promised five years for RBS to revive the bank - which is effectively breaking one of his key promises since taking control of the bank.
- Under Mr Hester, its shares have fallen substantially to about 27p currently. Its stock fell 48% last year. In 2007, RBS shares were worth about 370p.
- The bank is worth less than half what taxpayers paid for the shares when rescuing the group. UK taxpayers injected £45.5bn of new capital into RBS. At recent share prices, that investment has fallen in value by a painful £27bn.
- In 2011, the bank's return on equity fell from 14% to 12% and the cost-to-income ratio rose to 59% from 56%. (The 2013 targets for those two measures are 15% and less than 50%, respectively, from which RBS seems far away.)
Evaluating the performance of a chief executive is never easy.
But when the bank he is running was one of the world's biggest and had imploded, it becomes even harder.