Saturday 17 March 2018

RBS chief appointment could come next week

RBS Chief Executive Stephen Hester
RBS Chief Executive Stephen Hester

Harry Wilson and Kamal Ahmed

Royal Bank of Scotland is close to appointing a new chief executive to replace outgoing boss Stephen Hester, with an announcement expected as early as next week.

The taxpayer-backed lender is currently weighing up a shortlist of about four internal and external candidates for the job, though one source said the appointment could be delayed until September due to the need to get approval from the Treasury.

Ross McEwan, the head of RBS’s retail banking business, and Bruce van Saun, the bank’s finance director, are seen as the leading internal successors to Mr Hester.

David Roberts, a former senior banker at Barclays and the deputy chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, is seen as one of the leading outside candidates, along with Mark McCombe, the former chief executive of HSBC’s Hong Kong-based operations.

An announcement of the appointment could come on August 2 alongside the reporting of RBS’s financial results for the first half of the year.

However, any appointment will require the sign off from the Treasury, due to the taxpayer’s 81pc holding in the bank, meaning the announcement could be delayed for several weeks.

The new chief executive will be expected to agree to stay in the job for the duration of the privatisation of RBS, after Mr Hester was forced out of the role for refusing to commit himself to another five years at the bank.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph in June, Mr Hester said the full return of RBS to the private sector “could take a decade”.

The privatisation of Lloyds is thought to be much closer at hand and speculation is growing that the government could begin selling down the state’s 39pc holding in the bank within the next couple of months.

Last week, UKFI, the body charged with managing the holdings in RBS and Lloyds, appointed JP Morgan Cazenove to advise it on selling the stakes, as well as hiring several other major investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS to underwrite any share sales.

RBS declined to comment.

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