The Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS) CEO Stephen Hester will not be taking a bonus for 2009, following a rising trend of top banking executives declining payouts in the wake of public criticism. Hester, CEO at RBS since 2008, was set to take a $2.5 million bonus prior to his decision to abstain.
Last week, Barclays CEO John Varley and president Robert Diamond each announced they would not be taking a 2009 bonus, even though Barclays did not receive help from the British government following the economic crisis, while RBS did.
In the US, Goldman Sachs determined in December that top executives, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein, would not receive bonuses that were rumored to total $16 billion. The group instead received restricted stock. Goldman Sachs has reportedly recently hired WPP-owned Public Stategies to help the bank modify its image, with insiders saying Blankfein is particulary upset with criticisms aimed at Goldman's PR head, Lucas Van Praag.