The Great Debate UK

from Commentaries:

Why is RBS’s boss selling its shares?

Controversy and running RBS go hand in hand. Stephen Hester replaced Fred Goodwin as chief executive of RBS and is now in hot water himself over his incentive pay deal. The chief executive of the state-controlled bank could be paid 9.6 million pounds over three years if the share price (currently 44p) reaches 70p. However, he seems to have so little faith in the shares reaching that level that he has offloaded 1,264,565 shares since last November at prices between 28.5p and 48p, yielding just over 464,000 pounds.

When  unveiling first half results last week Hester asserted that "We have a strong plan in place that I believe can get us to where we need to be by 2013," which presumably includes recovery in a share price still languishing more than 90 percent off its peak.

The official guff goes that Hester was granted shares, in tranches, when he joined RBS in lieu of those he would have received at British Land. Under British tax law, the awards are treated as income and so Hester sold some of the shares granted "to meet an immediate income tax and national insurance liability."

In doing so, Hester can claim to be following best financial practice in matching a liability with the corresponding asset. Finance theory also says that investors should not put all their eggs in one basket.