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Fred the Shred’s mystery tour

Engrossed in a book at the Frankfurt airport departure gate on a chilly March evening, Euromoney found ourselves the last passenger called to the BA flight back to London. 

Sir Fred Goodwin, ex-chief executive of RBS

Scrambling down the steps to the waiting bus, however, we discovered that far from keeping our fellow passengers waiting, there was still one passenger to board. Seconds before the bus doors slammed shut, an immaculately dressed Fred Goodwin emerged from a secret location to leap on board, together with an equally immaculately groomed minder with a mobile phone clamped to his ear. As the bus reached the aircraft, Fred the Shred proved surprisingly unwilling to mingle with his fellow passengers and galloped up the steps to his seat – A1 of course – to bury his head in important paperwork as the hoi polloi slowly boarded.

Goodwin probably has a fair amount on his mind following the launch of a £4 billion claim against him and three other ex-RBS directors (Tom McKillop, Johnny Cameron and Guy Whittaker) on April 3 over the £12 billion RBS rights issue in 2008. This might result in Goodwin being served with a court summons. But what was he doing in Frankfurt? Maybe he is considering a move to Germany to get away from a hostile UK public and press?

His banking experience could prove invaluable to hard-pressed European central bankers struggling to fully comprehend the impact of their deliberations on the region’s banking industry. Few people have more first-hand experience of the damage that rash lending, poor risk controls and overleverage can do to a bank than Fred. But bank mergers and acquisitions might be one topic on which to seek advice elsewhere.