Northern Rock chief talks up sale despite annual loss

10 March 2011

British bank Northern Rock has indicated that it could be poised to transfer from government ownership and back into private hands, despite posting a significant annual loss.

In its latest report, the lender - nationalised by the former Labour government three years ago - confirmed it had lost £232 million ($374.7 million) in 2010, but chief executive Ron Sandler insisted profitability was not a prerequisite for privatization.

"I do not think profitability per se is an absolute precursor when it comes to a return to private ownership," he commented. "We believe we are on the right trajectory to return this business to profitability."

Mr Sandler added that Northern Rock would award bonuses totalling £13.1 million in spite of the disappointing figures - although he will not receive a payout himself - with finance director Jim McConville earning the biggest individual payout of £185,000.

Earlier this week, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland were forced to defend their own conduct over performance-related remuneration after political and public criticism.

By Claire Archer

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