ABN Amro chairman apologises for executive pay hike shambles

Tim Wallace
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BAILED out Dutch bank ABN Amro’s chairman apologised yesterday over a set of mis-judged pay rises offered to senior executives earlier this year.

The lender had planned to float on the stock market, a move which would have recovered some of the €30bn (£21.7bn) used to rescue ABN and Fortis in the financial crisis.

But it had to cancel the stock market flotation when it was revealed that several top bosses were in line for a €100,000 salary raise, a move which went down poorly with investors.

The pay rise was being offered in reaction to EU rules clamping down on bonuses, in a bid to make sure bosses were not made worse off by the legal changes.

Chairman Gerrit Zalm apologised in a letter accompanying the first quarter financial report.

“We sincerely regret the increase in fixed salary and the impact it has had on ABN Amro, our clients and employees, and other stakeholders,” Zalm wrote.

“Hence, we cancelled the increase. We understand that it will take time for the public to regain confidence in ABN Amro and will work hard to restore that confidence by doing our utmost to put our clients’ interests first every day.”

The first quarter figures showed reported profits of €543m, up 74.6 per cent on the year, in part due to falling loan losses.