RBS ousts seven directors in boardroom cull

A logo for an Royal Bank of Scotland branch is seen in the City of London January 19, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland ousted seven directors in a boardroom cull Friday to leave the government-backed bank better positioned for its restructuring.

The seven non-executive directors will retire immediately, RBS said, just three days after Philip Hampton replaced Tom McKillop as chairman.

RBS’s board has been criticized for allowing former chief executive Fred Goodwin to make too many acquisitions and pursue a risky strategy. Britain’s government has had to pump 20 billion pounds ($29.3 billion) into the bank which is set to report a 2008 loss of up to 28 billion pounds, a record for a UK company.

The directors going in the dramatic clear-out include Peter Sutherland, the former attorney general of Ireland and chairman of oil major BP and Goldman Sachs International, and Bob Scott, the senior non-executive of RBS and chairman of publisher Yell.

Also going are Jim Currie, Bill Friedrich, Bud Koch, Janis Kong and former Treasury official Steve Robson.

RBS has pledged to name three new non-executive directors, to be appointed with the approval of UK Financial Investments, the body set up to oversee the government’s near 70 percent stake in the lender.

The board keeps its three executives -- new Chief Executive Stephen Hester, Finance Director Guy Whittaker and Gordon Pell, head of regional markets.

There are five remaining non-executive directors in addition to Hampton, who said now was the right time to cut the board’s size as several directors were completing two or more terms or had asked to retire.

Whittaker and Pell are the only executives left from Goodwin’s regime.

Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Erica Billingham