Comment: Paying Libor fine with bonuses gives RBS dignity

Martin Flanagan
Martin Flanagan
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I JUST love the idea that Royal Bank of Scotland’s rather capacious band of bad-apple traders were literally sat right next to the Libor-rate submitters to allow their scam to go on. Work is always nicer when things are made convenient.

Libor-rigging carried on for up to two years after RBS’s taxpayer bail-out in 2008 – there was obviously not a plethora of hairshirt penance stalking the dealing rooms in the wake of that humiliating state intervention.

It was almost as if traders thought the taxpayer was a mug, who did not know his Cristal champagne from his Bollinger.

The public will rightly welcome the hundreds of millions of fines the regulators both in the UK and stateside have heaped on RBS for its part in what looks like the most egregious banking scandal of them all.

RBS is now paying the price for the scandal, which also happened under new broom Stephen Hester’s watch as well as the previous management. But the reputational damage will linger longer.

It is clear the Royal was no maverick, loose Libor cannon, however. Barclays and UBS have already been hit with fines as well, and there will undoubtedly be many more.

Word obviously travelled fast around the banking industry that 
Libor-rigging was a soft touch to 
flatter performance and bring in those lovely bonuses.

There is undoubted fairness that RBS is to raid the present 2012 bonus pool and past pay-outs via clawback to try and emerge from the mess with some dignity.

BSkyB and BT will both face Malone’s challenge

THE coin’s in the slot, let battle commence. Well, rather a lot of coins, 
actually. US cable giant Liberty 
Global’s $15.7bn (£10bn) swoop on Virgin Media, the British cable player, puts its billionaire owner John Malone face-on with an old adversary, Rupert Murdoch, in a pay-TV contest.

Virgin Media is the second-biggest pay-TV provider in the UK after Murdoch’s 39 per cent-owned satellite group, BSkyB. The development is unlikely to be greeted with equanimity by Murdoch, owner of News Corp.

Last year, the telephone hacking scandal put paid to his plans to take complete control of BSkyB.

Now Sky is likely to face a stronger competitor, bolstered by Liberty’s deep financial pockets and cable expertise.

BT, another competitor in this slot and which has been making a lot of the recent running in adding sports coverage, in particular, may also look askance at the deal.

However, Liberty’s move is at least likely to be good news for consumers. Malone is an aggressive player, with Liberty the biggest cable operator in most of its 11 European markets. It is unlikely he has entered the UK market to just make up the numbers.