Morning papers: Bank hit by bonus backlash

Barclays shareholders including Standard Life have slammed the bank’s proposed bonus hike despite falling profits in its investment arm, the Financial Times reports.

At the Barclays annual general meeting yesterday (24 April), more than a third of investors refused to back the bank’s remuneration report, with shareholders arguing the bank should not have increased bonuses in a year when the bank’s profits fell by more than a third.

Alison Kennedy, governance and stewardship director at Standard Life, Barclays’ sixth largest investor, said: “We are unconvinced that the amount of the 2013 bonus pool was in the best interest of shareholders.”

The paper says she added that the bank had kept its dividend unchanged and had “tapped” investors for almost £6bn in a rights issue in October.

However, Barclays chairman Sir David Walker retorted that Standard Life’s protests came “at a very late stage”.

According to the Telegraph, Barclays remuneration committee chairman Sir John Sunderland told Ms Kennedy that it “would be good in future if these points could be made during the consultation phase”.

RBS forced to scrap bonus plans

In other bankers’ bonus news, Royal Bank of Scotland has been forced by the government to scrap plans to pay bonuses equal to as much as 200 per cent of salaries, the FT reports.

The paper reported the lender as saying that UK Financial Investments, which oversees the taxpayer’s 81 per cent ownership of RBS, told the board it would vote against any plan to award bonuses of that magnitude.

New European laws mean shareholders can vote on whether to allow bonuses which would be more than basic pay. RBS said that because UKFI planned to reject any such proposals, it would be pointless to moot them at the annual general meeting.

First-time buyers highest since 2007

The number of first-time buyers reached its highest level since 2007 last month, the Guardian reports.

According to the paper, figures from British real estate chain LSL, owner of Your Move and Reed Rains, showed there were 31,400 sales to first-time-buyers in March, the highest figure since the property peak six and a half years ago.

The paper attributed the growth to increasing availability of high loan-to-value mortgages.

Stamp duty revenues through the roof

Revenues from stamp duty in Britain grew 34 per cent in one year, the Daily Mail reports.

Reporting on the latest tax receipt figures from HM Revenue and Customs, the paper says the Treasury took in £9.28bn in 2013/14 compared to £6.9bn in the previous financial year.

The paper suggests this is in large part owing to a rise in transactions resulting from better mortgage offers made available thanks to the Funding for Lending and Help to Buy schemes.