Receive free NatWest Group updates
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest NatWest Group news every morning.
NatWest has begun to sound out potential permanent successors to former chief executive Dame Alison Rose, but any appointment will only be made once the UK bank has installed a new chair, according to multiple people with knowledge of the process.
The bank was already on the hunt for a successor to chair Sir Howard Davies when Rose resigned last month after admitting to inaccurately briefing a BBC journalist over why Coutts, a NatWest subsidiary, had closed the account of former Brexit party leader Nigel Farage.
The day after Rose’s exit, which was sealed after UK prime minister Rishi Sunak signalled his concerns over her position, representatives of the bank began sounding out potential permanent successors, according to two of the people.
But the formal process of appointing one will not begin until the new chair is in place and is able to have a say on the selection, bank insiders said. Paul Thwaite, a NatWest executive who was appointed for an initial 12 months to succeed Rose, would also be under consideration for the role on a permanent basis.
Francesca McDonagh, the former chief executive of the Bank of Ireland and current chief operations officer of Credit Suisse, is also under consideration, according to people familiar with the matter.
NatWest, which counts the UK government as its biggest shareholder with an almost 40 per cent stake, has been engulfed in crisis after Farage revealed that his account had been closed in part because of his political views.
Farage had called on Davies and the rest of the board to be removed after they gave their backing to Rose before her eventual departure, while shareholders also raised concerns about the chair’s handling of the events.
Davies’ eight-year stint as chair is due to end next year, with the board having enlisted headhunters Spencer Stuart to find a successor several months ago, according to people with knowledge of the process.
Ralph Hamers, the recently departed chief executive of UBS, was at one point considered a potential replacement for Davies, but is no longer in contention, the people said.
The process of replacing Davies involves drawing up a shortlist of external candidates and then seeing which internal candidates would be interested in being considered alongside them.
Senior figures at NatWest are wary of the new chair being seen as a politically driven appointment given the circumstances of Rose’s departure and the UK government’s stake, according to people involved in internal discussions.
William Chalmers, the chief financial officer of Lloyds Banking Group, and Ewen Stevenson, the former NatWest CFO who left the same role at HSBC last year, may also be seen as potential CEO candidates.
NatWest declined to comment.