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Your MONEY: What a lot we've Scot; BONUS BONANZA AT BANK.

Byline: Edited by CLINTON MANNING

MORE than 100,000 staff will trouser bumper bonuses for helping the Royal Bank of Scotland rake in profits of more than pounds 1million an hour.

NatWest owner RBS made a mammoth pounds 9.2billion last year - a 16 per cent leap on the previous 12 months. Boss Sir Fred Goodwin said 112,000 staff would pocket 10 per cent bonuses as a reward.

The average payout - which will be in March pay packets - will be pounds 2,200. Almost threequarters of the bank's workforce will also collect performance bonuses averaging pounds 2,600.

The group is also handing pounds 2.5bn to shareholders including 163,000 small investors after hiking the dividend pay-out by a quarter.

RBS profits soared despite seeing bad debts at its UK branch network jump 15 per cent.

It set aside pounds 1.3bn to cover loans and credit card spending it no longer expected to be repaid.

But Sir Fred said he believed the bank was now past the worst as it had tightened its lending rules sooner than many of its rivals.

The group, which includes the Direct Line insurance business, is the only bank to have increased profits for 10 years running.

Sir Fred stressed only pounds 1 in pounds 33 came from its UK high street business.

But the group will be waiting anxiously to hear what the Office of Fair Trading decides on bank charges.

The OFT forced the banks to slash their credit card penalty fees in half. Halifax Bank of Scotland said that could cost it pounds 60m a year.

RBS would be hit hard by a similar clampdown on current accounts. It opened an extra 232,000 cheque accounts last year, taking the total to almost 13.8 million.

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KICK KING: England's Jonny Wilkinson
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2007
Words:304
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