LONDON Nathan Bostock, Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS.L) head of restructuring, is the early favorite to replace Stephen Hester as chief executive of the state-controlled bank, according to bookmakers.
The search is being led by Chairman Philip Hampton. The following are the favorites and some potential long-shots to replace Hester, who was ousted on Wednesday. (Odds from Ladbrokes and Paddy Power):
NATHAN BOSTOCK (3/1)
Joined RBS in June 2009 as head of restructuring and risk, and is due to step up to finance director in October. Has shrunk the non-core loan book. The former Abbey National finance boss almost left RBS to join Lloyds (LLOY.L) two years ago, but opted to stay. The accountant had spent a decade at RBS before joining Abbey.
BRUCE VAN SAUN (8/1)
RBS's American finance director has been Hester's right-hand man since arriving in October 2009. RBS said last month that Van Saun will take over its U.S. business Citizens to oversee its flotation in the next two years. He was keen to return to the United States, but the job of running the bigger RBS could tempt him to stay in Britain.
Van Saun has spent 30 years in financial services, including at Bank of New York Mellon and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), and arguably knows RBS and its problems better than anyone other than Hester.
ROSS McEWEN (20/1)
The New Zealander arrived to run RBS's retail banking in August 2012 from Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where he had run retail banking for five years. Elevation to the top job could be too soon, but he has 25 years' experience in financial services in Australia and New Zealand.
Other internal candidates could include Chris Sullivan (10/1), head of UK corporate and Rory Cullinan (4/1), head of the non-core division.
RICHARD MEDDINGS (4/1)
The Standard Chartered finance director is the best fancied outsider and has helped to drive strong growth at Standard Chartered since becoming finance director in 2006.
But the former Barclays and Credit Suisse banker may prefer to wait to take the helm at StanChart when CEO Peter Sands goes, and he was involved in the row his bank had with U.S. authorities last year over sanctions breaches with Iran.
CAMERON CLYNE (6/1)
There could be support for a top banker from Canada, Australia, the United States or elsewhere to bring a fresh view to UK banking, but any newcomer could get a shock at the extent of political influence in the running of RBS.
Clyne has been chief executive of National Australia Bank (NAB.AX) since January 2009, five years after joining the bank following 12 years with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
IAIN MACKAY (18/1)
The Scot has been HSBC finance director since December 2010, and has played an important role in a big restructuring by the bank since that time. The chartered accountant joined HSBC in 2007, after more than a decade at General Electric.
ANA BOTIN (25/1)
The Spanish head of Santander UK appears to have a good relationship with UK regulators and politicians after several appearances before lawmakers. But the former JPMorgan banker is pushing ahead with plans to float her bank, possibly next year, and she seems destined to take over from her father as chairman of Santander Group (SAN.MC) when he quits.
Other potential candidates include Bill Winters (20/1), the former co-head of investment banking at JPMorgan who was part of a committee that proposed reforms to UK banking; Naguib Kheraj, the former Barclays finance chief; StanChart's Sands (33/1); and Paul Tucker, the deputy governor of the Bank of England.
A long shot could be King, CEO of J.Sainsbury (SBRY.L). King has turned around the food retailer during his nine years there and there has been speculation he could move on. Hampton was chairman at Sainsbury from 2004 to 2009 and knows King well.
But picking a non-banker would be a big risk, especially in the wake of Andy Hornby's troubles when he moved from retail to run HBOS, another victim of the financial crisis. The bookmakers are not offering odds on King.
BOB DIAMOND (500/1)
Paddy Power is offering 500/1 on the former Barclays boss returning after UK authorities helped usher him out a year ago.
Fred Goodwin, the former RBS CEO who built the bank up over a decade with a string of acquisitions before bringing it to the brink of collapse in 2008, can be backed at 1,000/1. Outgoing Bank of England Governor Mervyn King is at 500/1.
(Compiled by Steve Slater and Matt Scuffham; editing by David Stamp)