What does it say about the future of an investment bank when the chief executive sells all his shares at a low point almost as soon as he is able?

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Persons working at RBS Global Banking and Markets could be forgiven for feeling a little a despondent this morning. Yesterday, RBS reported that John Hourican, chief executive of the business, sold 99% of his available holding of ordinary shares in the parent company.

Hourican's timing seems a little bizarre. RBS's share price is currently at a mere 22.8p, down from 39p in January and a high of 49p in March. Once upon a time, it had been hoped that the share price might rise to 50.5p so that the British government could sell its stake at a profit.

Hourican's disposal of 99% of his holding for a mere 48% of this fantasy price target (he sold at 24p) suggests that he, at least, isn't expecting the share price to recover soon. He also appears to be selling his shares as soon as he is able: yesterday's disposal comes six months after Hourican received his (comparatively paltry) 2010 bonus in March and suggests a six month vesting schedule.

John Hourican's rush to get out of RBS stock is nothing new: he also disposed of as much as he could when 1.16m shares from his 2009 bonus vested in June. But back in June, RBS's share price still looked comparatively healthy. Now it doesn't. Hourican's swift exit implies he sees no improvement soon.

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