(Adds details on possible candidates, IPO plans)
By Steve Slater and Brenda Goh
LONDON, April 30 The British arm of Spanish bank
Santander said its chairman Terry Burns is stepping
down and it intends to have his replacement in place by the end
of the year, as the UK business prepares for a stock market
Santander UK, which signaled a turnaround programme is on
track earlier this week by reporting strong profit growth, could
get its own listing later this year or early in 2015.
That would require clarity in the leadership and Santander
UK said on Wednesday Burns, 70, will stay as chairman until a
replacement is found.
A frontrunner to replace him could be Bruce Carnegie-Brown,
who is a non-executive director of Santander UK and worked for
U.S. bank JPMorgan and several insurers.
But some executive recruiters and industry insiders have
warned of a shallow pool of top qualified candidates, and rivals
Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Nationwide
are also expected to be on the hunt for chairmen.
Bank chairmen are expected to have wide banking and
regulatory experience as well as being untarnished by the
financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.
Burns' exit is not a surprise as he has been chairman since
February 2002 and in January he resigned from the board of the
Madrid-based Santander group.
But it adds to potential change at the top of UK business,
which is still awaiting the arrival of Nathan Bostock as deputy
chief executive, after announcing in December it had poached him
from RBS. UK Chief Executive Ana Botin is also tipped to replace
her father to run the group at some stage.
A flotation of the UK business has been under consideration
for several years, but was delayed by the UK recession and a
shift in focus to more profitable business loans and reduced
lending to home owners.
That rebalancing is nearing completion and the bank said it
is winning customers who are switching from rival banks and was
benefiting from an improving UK economy.
Santander UK, which has 15 million customers, about 1,200
branches and 24,000 staff, made a pretax profit of 416 million
pounds in the first quarter of this year, up 48 percent from a
year ago as revenue rose 13 percent on the back of a sharp rise
It contributed a fifth of Santander's group profits,
matching Brazil as the biggest contributors.
(Editing by Matt Scuffham and David Holmes)