Brown's off as Ulster Bank chief takes top job at new UK bank
Ulster Bank is the latest major lender in the hunt for a new chief executive after parent Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) scooped Jim Brown to head a new UK bank.
Mr Brown is leaving to lead the spin-out of new UK banking brand Williams & Glyn from RBS. He will replace John Maltby as chief executive of the revived banking brand, which is being set up to become a new UK "challenger" bank.
In an internal memo seen by the Irish Independent, the New Zealand-born executive told staff he had been asked to take on the new UK-based job by RBS group chief executive Ross McEwan.
It is the second major departure for Ulster Bank, following the recent exit of its Northern Ireland head, Elvena Graham.
Mr Brown's appointment is subject to regulatory approval and the bank said yesterday that he will remain with the Irish lender while the search for a replacement gets under way.
That process has already commenced, the Irish Independent understands. The 314-branch William & Glyn bank focuses on lending to small businesses. RBS was ordered to sell the unit by European competition authorities as a condition of its government bailout.
The former Williams & Glyn bank brand was absorbed into RBS in 1985 but is being revived and is expected to be spun-out through an initial public offer (IPO) next year.
Since coming to Ireland in 2011 from RBS in Hong Kong, Mr Brown has overseen Ulster Bank's return to profit following the financial crash, and was in situ for the long-running review into whether RBS would retain or seek to sell the Irish bank.
"The last four years have been quite a journey, both for me personally and for our business. When I arrived in Ireland from Hong Kong in April 2011, RBS, the Irish market and the Ulster Bank business were all working through the immediate effects of the financial crisis and its resulting impact on both our people and our customers. This period has been hugely challenging," Mr Brown told co-workers yesterday.
"The strategy we put in place to manage our legacy issues while building a really good future bank for our customers has served us well," he said.
At Williams & Glyn Mr Brown will replace John Maltby, who has been chief executive since January 2014. Sources said the appointment had been decided jointly by RBS and an investors consortium, which also includes the Church of England and Corsair Capital, holding a 49pc stake in the lender.