Santander UK pays $4.2 million golden hellos to two executives

LONDON Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:30pm GMT

A car drives past the logo of Spanish Santander bank in a roundabout outside the company's headquarters in Boadilla del Monte, outside Madrid, January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

A car drives past the logo of Spanish Santander bank in a roundabout outside the company's headquarters in Boadilla del Monte, outside Madrid, January 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Sergio Perez

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LONDON (Reuters) - Spanish bank Santander (SAN.MC) paid 2.8 million pounds ($4.2 million) in "golden hellos" to two senior executives last year, an example of a practice many investors want stamped out as part of corporate pay reforms.

Finance Director Stephen Jones, who joined in March 2012, was paid 2.8 million pounds for last year, including 1.6 million pounds to buy out deferred share awards he lost when he left Barclays (BARC.L).

Santander UK's annual report, released on Friday, also showed its highest paid senior executive below board level received 2.5 million pounds last year, including 1.2 million to buy out awards from a previous employer.

The executive was not named, but is likely to have been Charlotte Hogg, head of retail distribution, who joined from Experian (EXPN.L) in late 2011.

Some investors oppose any golden hellos, as they are paid before any work has been done. Swiss bank UBS (UBSN.VX) provoked outrage on Thursday after it emerged it had welcomed its new investment bank chief Andrea Orcel with a $26 million (17 million pounds) package.

"We don't agree to golden hellos but occasionally we will agree to buy out historical accrued awards or bonuses that have been earned," a spokesman for Santander said. He said it was considered on an individual basis for top staff.

Santander UK said Chief Executive Ana Botin was paid 4 million pounds in 2012, down 3 percent on 2011. Santander previously disclosed what she was paid across the group.

Santander plans to spin-off and float its UK arm, but probably not until 2014 at the earliest. "The timing of this will remain subject to market conditions and to the emergence of a more positive outlook towards UK banks from investors," the annual report said.

The bank wants to build an 8 percent market share in corporate banking, from 5 percent now, and aims to have 4 million primary retail banking customers by 2015.

(Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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