Royal Bank of Scotland boss Ross McEwan has resigned after more than five-and-a-half years at the helm, saying it is the “right time” to step down.
Mr McEwan has a year’s notice period and will stay in the post until a successor has been appointed, and to ensure an “orderly handover”.
The news comes ahead of the lender’s annual general meeting being held in Edinburgh later on Thursday.
Mr McEwan said he had achieved his strategy set out when he joined the bank, having returned the bank to profitability and put it on a firmer financial footing.
He said: “After over five-and-a-half very rewarding years, and with the bank in a much stronger financial position, it is time for me to step down as CEO.”
He added: “It is never easy to leave somewhere like RBS.
“However with much of the restructuring done and the bank on a strong and profitable footing, I have delivered the strategy that I set out in 2013 and now feels like the right time for me to step aside and for a new CEO to lead the bank.”
RBS chairman Sir Howard Davies said the search for Mr McEwan’s successor will start immediately, with the bank casting the net internally and externally.
Alison Rose, who was recently promoted to deputy chief executive of NatWest Holdings, is seen as the leading internal candidate to take over from Mr McEwan.
She has worked at RBS for more than 26 years and her appointment late last year already sparked intense speculation she is being lined up as a successor to Mr McEwan.
Mr Davies paid tribute to Mr McEwan’s time in charge.
He said: “The board and I are grateful for the huge contribution Ross has made in one of the toughest jobs in banking.
“His successful execution of the strategy to refocus the bank back on its core markets here in the UK and Ireland has helped to deliver one of the biggest UK corporate turnarounds in history.”
Mr McEwan took up the post in October 2013 and has led the bank through testing times, having been left largely in the hands of the State after a mammoth £45 billion taxpayer bailout amid the financial crisis.
It was more than 80% owned by the Government at one stage, but the taxpayer’s stake has since reduced to 62.4%.
Mr McEwan has presided over a return to profit at RBS, with the 61-year-old New Zealander seeing the lender report its second successive year in the black for 2018 and announcing a £1.6 billion final dividend, resulting in a near £1 billion windfall for the taxpayer.
The lender saw bottom-line profits more than double from £752 million last year to £1.62 billion, a 116% increase.
Full year pre-tax operating profit rose 50% to £3.4 billion.
It marked the bank’s second year of profits following a decade-long run of stinging losses, during a period marred by crisis-era legacy and conduct charges.
Shares slipped 1% after news of Mr McEwan’s departure.