RBS boss plans to stay to oversee return to private ownership

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LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland RBS.L chief executive Ross McEwan said he has a plan until 2020 and wants to see the bank returned to private hands, dismissing speculation he could leave in the near future after resolving its last big misconduct issue.

Media reports suggested a search for McEwan’s successor had intensified after RBS agreed a long-awaited $4.9 billion settlement with U.S. authorities on Thursday, clearing the way for re-privatisation and dividend payments.

After more than five years as CEO of RBS, which is now far nearer to normality after a 45.5 billion pound state bailout in 2008, the 60-year-old regularly faces questions about his departure.

“Job’s not done yet. I’ve got a plan through to 2020,” he said on LBC Radio on Friday, adding that he wants to see RBS returned to private ownership.

“I’d like to be around a little longer,” he said when asked whether he would stick around for at least two years.

McEwan also said RBS could shut more branches in England and Wales. It has already announced the closure of 162 branches and 792 job cuts earlier this month as part of a plan B instigated after it failed to sell its Williams & Glyn brand.

McEwan said under this plan to stimulate competition, which it agreed with the government and European Union, regulators would see it transfer around 120,000 small business customers to rivals, a process expected to complete by the end of the year and could prompt further closures.

“We’ll have to wait until the end of the year to see what... footfall disappears when we move these customers out,” he said in response to a question on the size of any potential cuts.

Reporting by Emma Rumney, editing by Huw Jones and Alexander Smith