LONDON Dec 11 Nathan Bostock has proved himself
an expert in shrinking bloated banks, yet his retail banking
skills are likely to hold the key to whether he lands the top
job at Santander's British arm.
Bostock, 52, shocked Royal Bank of Scotland's board
late on Tuesday when he announced he was quitting as finance
director just 10 weeks into the job.
RBS, 82 percent owned by the UK taxpayer, has many problems
and his departure presents a fresh challenge for Chief Executive
Ross McEwan. But his exit could ultimately be more significant
for the succession at Santander and in helping speed a planned
London stock market listing.
The Scot will return as head of risk and deputy chief
executive at Santander's UK arm, which analysts and bankers said
looked like setting a clear path to its top UK job once it is
spun out and floated.
Santander's current UK Chief Executive Ana Botin has been
tipped as a likely successor to her father Emilio, who is the
79-year-old chairman of Santander, leaving a question mark over
the top post in Britain.
"This could all be part of a broader succession plan," one
recruitment executive said.
The move also continues a strengthening of the Santander UK
team ahead of a flotation, which has been under consideration
for several years but was delayed by the UK recession and a
shift in focus to business lending rather than home loans.
As the UK recovery picks up pace, a float is looking more
likely late next year or in 2015.
Bostock, a rugby fan with two sons who lives at a farm in
Kent, southeast of London, has kept a low profile and people who
have worked with him said he prefers to stay out of the
When he appeared before Britain's Public Accounts Committee
- a parliamentary body charged with scrutinising state spending
- in March 2011 alongside other RBS and Lloyds Banking Group
executives, he did not say a word, letting his CEO
speak on behalf of RBS.
RBS AND SANTANDER HOMECOMINGS
Bostock prepares thoroughly and is well organised, the
people who worked with him said, which made him an ideal person
to get rid of 385 billion pounds ($632.5 billion) of assets RBS
didn't want. "He gets things done and gets people around him who
do too," one said.
Bostock has been at RBS or Santander for most of his working
life, but has switched roles and companies several times. He has
mostly held risk control, restructuring and senior finance jobs.
The mathematics graduate and trained accountant started at
Coopers & Lybrand (now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers )
and spent seven years at Chase Manhattan, since absorbed into
JPMorgan Chase, before joining RBS in 1992, where his
roles over a decade included risk director.
In 2001 he joined Abbey National, later bought by Santander,
where he had roles in retail banking and as finance director,
before leaving in 2009 to rejoin RBS.
He was lured back to RBS by Stephen Hester, the bank's then
chief executive, who he had worked with at Abbey.
The two men had set up a unit at Abbey to deal with troubled
assets and Hester called on Bostock to do the same at RBS on a
far bigger scale as head of restructuring and risk.
His task was to shed its masses of "non-core" assets in
commercial real estate, home loans, asset management, project
finance and elsewhere.
Bostock had planned to leave RBS in 2011 when another former
Santander colleague, Antonio Horta-Osorio, offered him the
finance director's job at Lloyds, but canceled that
move when CEO Horta-Osorio took time off for illness.
He stayed on and at one stage was odds-on favourite with
bookmakers to get the job as RBS CEO when the bank ousted
Hester. Instead it picked retail bank boss Ross McEwan, who
began in October at the same time Bostock became finance chief.
He was paid about 2.5 million pounds at RBS last year and is
likely to get a similar amount at Santander, which paid its
previous head of risk 1.8 million.
McEwan, possibly aware he could see Bostock at future CEO
roundtables, wished Bostock well: "I look forward to competing
with him in the UK market as we strive to better the industry
for our customers."