RBS Raids Swiss Giant For New Finance Chief
The taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is close to luring one of the architects of its £45.5bn taxpayer bail-out to become its new finance chief.Sky News can exclusively reveal that Ewen Stevenson, who works for Credit Suisse, is in advanced negotiations about joining RBS at a critical time for the bank.
Mr Stevenson’s appointment as RBS’s finance director is subject to approval by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), which insiders said on Saturday was expected within days.
His arrival at the bank, which is 81%-owned by UK taxpayers, will end a search that began last autumn when Nathan Bostock, the current finance director, resigned after just ten weeks in the role.
Mr Stevenson has been co-head of investment banking for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Credit Suisse since 2012.
Prior to that he ran the Zurich-based bank’s global financial institutions group, and in 2008 he helped to draw up the rescue recapitalisations of RBS and Lloyds Banking Group undertaken by the then Labour government.
Assuming his appointment is confirmed, Mr Stevenson would complete an all-New Zealander executive line-up at the top of RBS following Ross McEwan’s installation as chief executive late last year.
A source close to the situation confirmed that talks about Mr Stevenson’s appointment were at an advanced stage, although they insisted that other candidates remained in the frame.
The new finance chief will have one of the fullest in-trays in British banking.
RBS, which lost more than £8bn last year, is expected to remain in the red for several more years as Mr McEwan and his team reshape the once-global business.
Under plans announced last month, RBS will refocus on UK personal and small business customers, with operations in dozens of overseas markets likely to be sold or closed.
Tens of thousands of jobs will be shed, while Mr McEwan has pledged to abolish teaser rates on banking products in an effort to win back customers’ trust.
Chief among the challenges facing Mr Stevenson will be improving RBS’s capital position in order to meet tough new standards imposed by regulators.
RBS’s US retail bank, Citizens, this week failed a US stress test, potentially delaying its flotation or sale.
The PRA will conduct its own exercise later this year, with some analysts forecasting that RBS may need to raise further capital as it accelerates the run-off of billions of pounds of toxic assets.
Mr Stevenson’s arrival at RBS will reunite him with his former Credit Suisse colleague, James Leigh-Pemberton, who now runs UK Financial Investments, the Treasury agency which manages taxpayers’ stake in the bank.
Mr Stevenson’s proposed pay deal at RBS will also attract attention, although he is likely to be substantially less well-rewarded in his new role than in his current berth.
RBS and Credit Suisse both declined to comment on Saturday.