RBS picks Alison Rose as first woman to run British banking giant

Monday 12th August 2019 15:45 BST

Sky News has learnt that RBS is likely to name Ms Rose? as Ross McEwan's successor in the coming weeks, and potentially as soon as next week.

The City and banking regulators are understood to be in the process of considering RBS's application to appoint her, according to industry sources.

UK Government Investments, which manages taxpayers' stake in RBS, is also said to have been notified about the bank's decision.? If confirmed, the appointment would be a landmark in a hitherto male-dominated area of British corporate life.? ?

Ms Rose has been seen as the frontrunner to replace Mr McEwan since RBS announced in April that the New Zealander would step down within a year.

The departing boss has since announced that he is to join National Australia Bank as its chief executive.? In recent weeks, however, doubts had begun to emerge about whether Ms Rose would land the role, amid reports about rival external candidates including Ian Stuart, who runs HSBC's UK bank.

The search has been led by Sir Howard Davies, the former Bank of England deputy governor.? ?Assuming Ms Rose's appointment is confirmed, it will mean that RBS is the first of the leading quartet of British lenders - a group which also includes Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group - to have a female chief.

RBS, which is 62% owned by the taxpayer following its £45.5bn bailout during the 2008 financial crisis, also has a female finance chief, Katie Murray, who was appointed late last year.

None of RBS's main rivals has ever had a woman in any of the top three boardroom posts.

The most senior woman in British banking currently is Baroness Vadera, who chairs Santander UK, the fifth-biggest high street lender.

The new RBS chief executive ?will have a bulging in-tray, inheriting the reins of a company that must contend with the impact of a possible no-deal Brexit, ultra-low interest rates and ongoing global trade tensions.

This week, Mr McEwan endorsed the view of Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, that a no-deal Brexit would render a "substantial number" of businesses no longer economically viable.

Ms Rose has become an increasingly prominent figure in banking and political circles in the last couple of years.

She was promoted to become deputy chief executive of NatWest Holdings, RBS's non-ring-fenced bank, late last year, and also serves as chief executive of commercial and private banking across the group.

Her existing remit ?means she is responsible for more than 12,000 employees, as well as brands including the private bank Coutts and Lombard, the asset finance provider.

Ms Rose has worked at RBS for more than 25 years?, mainly in various roles in its investment bank.

She recently authored the Rose Review, a government-commissioned inquiry into the barriers facing female entrepreneurs.

Other candidates for the top job at RBS are understood to have included Mark Bailie, the bank's chief operating officer and chief executive of Bo, its standalone digital bank.

External contenders for the role were reported to have included Mr Stuart, although he has said to have told HSBC colleagues last week that he had no intention of leaving.? ?Mr McEwan's successor as RBS chief will have a realistic chance of being the executive who completes the bank's ?re-privatisation.

Under Philip Hammond?, the previous chancellor, the Treasury set a target date of 2024 for offloading the remaining government stake, although the public spending watchdog has cautioned about the anticipated pace of further share sales.

Taxpayers are ultimately expected to make a loss running to many billions of pounds on their RBS shareholding.

Since its rescue more than a decade ago, RBS has been hit by an unprecedented deluge of regulatory fines, civil and criminal investigations, IT meltdowns and rows over bonuses and branch closures.

Its journey towards recovery has been gathering momentum during the latter part of Mr McEwan?'s tenure, with a £1bn dividend payment to the Treasury at the half-year a further indication of the surplus capital it is now generating.

However, the current RBS chief warned that the outlook facing the economy was tough.? ?The appointment of RBS's new boss will come during a period of leadership change at the UK's biggest banks.

HSBC announced this week that John Flint, its chief executive of less than 18 months, would step down.

Among the possible candidates to replace him is Antonio Horta-Osorio, who has run Lloyds Banking Group since 2011.

RBS said on Saturday: "The process to appoint Ross McEwan's successor is ongoing.

"Our next CEO will be confirmed in due course, once an appointment has been made."? ??

Shares in the bank closed on Friday at 204.6p, giving it a market value of just over £25bn.? ?

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