Ross McEwan resigns as RBS boss

RBS boss

The chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland is resigning after more than five years in which he returned the state-owned lender to profit, settled a US sub-prime mis-selling claim and weathered storms such the handling of its Global Restructuring Group.

Ross McEwan, 61, said: “With the bank in a much stronger financial position it is time for me to step down as CEO.”

He has a 12-month notice period and will stay in the role until a successor has been appointed.

RBS is more than 62 per cent owned by the UK taxpayer. It was rescued in a £45 billion government bail-out during the 2008 financial crisis. It has spent the last decade cutting costs and restructuring as it worked through the problems created by its disastrous acquisition of ABN Amro.

Mr McEwan, born in New Zealand, has led RBS since October 2013. He has strengthened its balance sheet and refocused the business on its core domestic UK business and consumer lending. During the time he has sold £330 billion of assets, focused the business on 12 countries — down from 38 — and reduced the headcount from 109,000 to 67,100.

In 2017 the bank swung back into profit and last year paid its first dividend after a decade in public ownership. Last year the bank also successfully settled with the US Department of Justice over its historic mis-selling of sub-prime mortgage bonds for $4.9 billion.

Mr McEwan has in the past indicated that he would like to stay on until 2020 to fully oversee the bank’s transition from a state-controlled institution with a string of legacy problems to a normal commercial lender.

Howard Davies, chairman of RBS, said: “Ross has worked tirelessly to make the bank stronger and safer and played the central role in delivering a return to profitability and dividend payments to shareholders … His successful execution of the strategy to refocus the bank back on its core markets here in the UK and Ireland has helped to deliver one of the biggest UK corporate turnarounds in history.”

Potential successors include Alison Rose, 49, deputy chief executive and a director of RBS’s ring-fenced bank. Her appointment last year was taken as a signal that she was a strong candidate to replace him. Other internal contenders in the frame are Les Matheson, head of personal banking.