NatWest picks City veteran as new chairman in wake of Alison Rose exit
NatWest Group has named the former Mastercard chair as its new chairman in the wake of the debanking row with Nigel Farage which led to its chief executive being ousted from the group.
City veteran Richard Haythornthwaite, known as Rick, will join the bank’s board in January before taking over from Sir Howard Davies when he stands down as chairman from April 15 next year.
Sir Howard had intended to step down by July next year before the debanking saga unfolded, and remained in the role despite facing calls to resign following the abrupt departure of chief executive Dame Alison Rose in July.
Her exit came after she admitted to making a “serious error of judgment” in discussing the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s relationship with bank Coutts, owned by NatWest Group, with a BBC journalist.
Mr Farage said chairman Sir Howard “should have been sacked” over the debacle.
Incoming chairman Mr Haythornthwaite, who is set to earn £775,000 a year as chairman, said it is a “privilege” to take on the role.
The businessman has held a number of executive positions stretching across a decades-long career in business, including his current role as chairman of Ocado Group and previously as global chairman of Mastercard Inc, and a 17-year long tenure at BP.
He is also the chairman of the AA but will be stepping down from the role, although he will remain on the board, when he joins NatWest.
He said: “I am inheriting a very different NatWest compared to my predecessor; one that is more customer focused, financially resilient and well positioned to maintain its recent strong performance.
“I look forward to working with the board to build on the exceptional progress made, so we can continue to support the UK economy and deliver for our customers and stakeholders.”
NatWest said it had been a “rigorous process” to find the right successor for the bank.
Sir Howard said: “I am very pleased by the choice the board has made and am confident that Rick’s experience and range of skills will complement and further strengthen the NatWest board in the years to come.”
Sir Howard said in July that political reaction forced out boss Dame Alison by making her position “untenable”, but vowed to stay on at the bank until his planned resignation.
Dame Alison’s exit came shortly after the board said it had full confidence in her position as chief executive.
The bank grew its profits under the leadership of its former boss to £3.6 billion in the first half of the year, an increase of around £1 billion compared to the same period last year.