Friday, 27 February 2009

Marquise Myners plays dangerously with Vicomte de Fred

In what is perhaps the most eagerly followed letter-writing face-off since Pierre Choderlos de Laclos published Les Liasons Dangereuses in 1782, the correspondence just keeps on flying back and forth between former RBS boss Sir Fred Goodwin and City Minister Lord Myners.
As you'll all know by now, Sir Fred's first effort declined a tempting piece of seduction by Lord Myners, who had merely asked for the Scottish banker to give up his £650,000-a-year pension. My Lord countered that refusal with a riposte which claimed that he found Sir Fred's response "unacceptable" - despite admitting that the whole deal might have inadvertantly been given a Government nod.
"I welcomed your decision then to waive [your 12-month notice period and certain share-related awards]," Lord Myners writes. "That did not amount to approval of your pension arrangements given that, as I have outlined, I was unaware of any scope for discretion."
But how could any Minister have failed to ask about this major point, which would have been a huge gaffe for an inexperienced civil servant, never mind a man of My Lord's expertise.
Here is a man who has sat on remuneration committees and having become City Minister last year, issued this stark warning to any boardroom daring to try it on.
“I think remuneration committees are going to need to think very carefully about [excessive rewards]," My Lord mused back then. "We have made it very clear that Government is watching."

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