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RBS chief calls for 'flogging' to stop

THE chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland has called for an end to the "public flogging" of the embattled bank as executives prepared to face angry investors at the annual shareholders meeting.

Chairman Philip Hampton also warned that more jobs would be lost as the bank sorts through its problems and seeks to cut annual expenses by 2.5 billion pounds (US$3.7 billion) within three years, though he provided no estimate on numbers.

Yesterday's lunchtime meeting was to be the first major shareholders' gathering since the bank's near collapse last year and a 20-billion-pound bailout by the British government, which now owns a 58-percent stake. The bank posted a British record loss of 24.1 billion pounds last year.

The executive team will face questions about former chief executive Fred Goodwin's 703,000 pounds annual pension. United Kingdon Financial Instruments, the body which holds the government's shares, has said it will vote against the bank's remuneration report.

G20 protesters targeted a branch of RBS in London earlier this week and Goodwin's home in Edinburgh was vandalized last month. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has condemned the pension deal.

"We do accept the rightful scrutiny of shareholders, the media and of politicians held accountable by the voters for the massive taxpayer support for banks in the UK and elsewhere," Hampton said. "However, I believe we should bring an end to the public flogging and focus on the good and enduring people and businesses of RBS and allow them to earn our way back to success."


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