Over the last 12 months, the RBS share price has fallen 97 percent. In short, share holder value has been wiped out. It is a sad tale but should we feel sorry for RBS shareholders?
It is a tough question. One the one hand, shareholders should have paid a lot more attention to what the management were doing. Most of the problems at RBS are self inflicted wounds. It was a mixture of bad investments, ruinous pride and an ambitious acquisitions strategy that destroyed the bank. Shareholders could have stopped it, but didn't.
On the other hand, the capacity of shareholders to influence corporate decisions is now extremely weak. There were shareholders who spoke out against the ABN-Amro purchase, but RBS management simply ploughed on regardless.
Regardless of the culpabiity of shareholders, RBS offers a stark warning about what can happen to a great company if it falls into the wrong hands. Shareholders everywhere should wake up to the danger that lurks within every company; the ambitious and reckless CEO who is willing to risk everything for the christmas bonus.