NatWest CEO Rose ousted by UK Govt over Farage row

Alison Rose

The board of NatWest-RBS announced early on Wednesday that Alison Rose has “agreed by mutual consent to step down as group chief executive with immediate effect.”

The news came only hours after NatWest chairman Howard Davies announced at 5.42pm on Tuesday that the banking group retained “full confidence” in Rose despite her “regrettable error of judgement” in discussing with BBC journalist Simon Jack the relationship of its private bank Coutts with former Brexit party leader Nigel Farage.

NatWest is still 38.6% owned by the UK government and taxpayer following its £45.5 billion bailout during the last financial crisis.

Bloomberg reported that NatWest’s initial announcement on Rose’s departure came at around 1.30am after the firm’s board reconvened late on Tuesday to discuss Rose’s position with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt, with both politicians indicating that Rose’s position was untenable.

The UK’s Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrew Griffith said: “This would never have happened if NatWest had not taken it upon itself to withdraw a bank account due to someone’s lawful political views.

“That was and is always unacceptable. I hope the whole financial sector learns from this.”

On Wednesday morning, Davies said: “The board and Alison Rose have agreed, by mutual consent, that she will step down as CEO of the NatWest Group.

“It is a sad moment. She has dedicated all her working life so far to NatWest and will leave many colleagues who respect and admire her.”

Rose said: “I remain immensely proud of the progress the bank has made in supporting people, families and business across the UK, and building the foundations for sustainable growth.

“My NatWest colleagues are central to that success, and so I would like to personally thank them for all that they have done.”

For an initial period of 12 months, and subject to regulatory approval, the NatWest board has appointed Paul Thwaite, the current CEO of its Commercial and Institutional business, “to take over the responsibilities of leading NatWest Group.”

NatWest said a “further process” will take place in due course to appoint a permanent successor.