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We've been humbled by crisis at Metro Bank, bosses finally admit

Metro Bank's boss said he feels 'humbled and chastened' after an accounting error wiped more than £1billion off the lender's market value.

Craig Donaldson, 47, issued an extraordinary apology to shareholders for the problems which have sent Metro stock plummeting 83 per cent from its peak in March last year.

He admitted it had made serious mistakes, including the accounting error which saw it underestimate the riskiness of some property loans. That alone knocked more than £1billion off the bank's value when it was revealed in January.

Metro boss: Craig Donaldso issued an apology to shareholders for the problems which have sent Metro stock plummeting 83 per cent from its peak in March last year

Donaldson gave up his annual bonus and offered to resign in the wake of the fiasco, but was asked to stay by Metro's board.

The apology was not enough for some investors, with 10 per cent voting against Donaldson's reappointment to Metro's board at its annual meeting yesterday.

Speaking to investors, Donaldson said: 'I would like to apologise to you all and share my deep regret.

'I am really excited about the future, but it has been a humbling and chastening first quarter.'

Metro revealed in January that it had underestimated the riskiness of some of its loans, and wasn't holding enough spare cash to cover itself in the event that borrowers were unable to pay them back.

This meant it had to rush to investors to raise more money, eventually pulling in £375million by selling shares for 500p each. Just a year ago, Metro's shares were trading for 3422p apiece.

The Mail exposed how Metro's error was discovered by regulators at the Bank of England, not its own staff as Metro had initially suggested.

This triggered further questions over bosses' credibility.

Even though Donaldson turned down a bonus for 2018, a hefty 21 per cent of Metro's investors voted against directors' pay, meaning it will appear on a register maintained by the Investment Association trade body of shamed firms suffering major revolts.

The chief executive pocketed £800,944, while finance head David Arden took home £1.1million.

In contrast to Donaldson's tone, Metro Bank's US billionaire founder Vernon Hill, 74, claimed his company is still the best choice in the UK. Hill, who received a 12 per cent vote against his reappointment, tried to rally shareholders behind his ambition to become a major lender.

He said: 'We are the banking choice in Britain. Our model is working and we continue to disrupt UK banking. We have had some ups and downs but our strategy remains strong.'

His words seemed to soothe investor jitters, as the shares ended the day up 7.6 per cent, or 49.5p, at 705.5p.

Hill founded Metro Bank in 2010 as the first new High Street bank to open in the UK for more than 100 years. It now has 66 branches and 1.7m customers, whom it calls 'fans'.

Many of its shareholders are Hill's close business associates, including Tiffany's chairman Roger Farah and media mogul Michael Bloomberg.

Norway's Norges Bank revealed yesterday that it had taken a 3.1 per cent stake in the company, worth £20million at the current share price.

Hill's Yorkshire terrier Sir Duffield II, who has become an unofficial mascot for the lender, was absent from the meeting.

Metro declined to speak to journalists at the subdued event, and the lack of questions from shareholders elicited a surprised chuckle from Hill.

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