Arbuthnot strikes out at government for damaging prospects at small banks

ARBUTHNOT Banking Group yesterday hit out at the government for crippling smaller banks with a “one-size-fits-all” approach to punitive regulatory policy.

Arbuthnot has avoided the Bank Payroll Tax altogether by not paying any bonuses over £25,000, but it said the new rules – including the bonus tax and changes to capital requirements – could damage its prospects.

“That affects our business rather unfairly,” said chief operating officer Andrew Salmon. “Because of the few, you are effectively making life more difficult for the many.”

The group’s counter-attack came as it posted full-year figures showing it swung to a pre-tax profit of £5.1m, from a loss of £2.2m in 2008.

Arbuthnot’s retail bank saw a 40 per cent rise in pre-tax profit to £10.2m thanks to the performance of acquired loan portfolios, though this was offset as profits were wiped out at its private banking division.

The investment bank made a loss in the first half of the year but moved into profit for the second half, boosted by an increased appetite for deals and IPOs in the small to mid cap market.