Retail banking head McEwan favourite for RBS top job

Ross McEwan, the retail banking head of Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland, is in pole position to be named as chief executive of the state-backed bank.

Ross McEwan, the retail banking head of Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland, is in pole position to be named as chief executive of the state-backed bank.

Mr McEwan, the former top-ranked Commonwealth Bank executive who has been in his RBS job only since August, is the leading candidate following a six-week search. It is believed his name will this week be put forward to a four-stage process which could see him anointed as early as this week.

While at CBA, Mr McEwan was interviewed for the top job which eventually went to Ian Narev.

New Zealand-born Mr McEwan ran CBA's retail banking arm for five years.

The RBS appointment process requires the approval of its board, UK Financial Investments, which manages the British government's 81 per cent stake in the bank, and both the Prudential Regulatory Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority.

At the earliest, an announcement could come alongside RBS's half-year results on Friday.

However, due to the complexities of the process a final decision is likely to be weeks away.

There can be no guarantee at this stage that Mr McEwan will eventually be offered the job.

The other candidate is thought to be Bruce van Saun, the bank's finance director, and there is thought to have been at least one external candidate in the race until recently. Although the situation has been fluid, sources indicated that senior board members were now coalescing around Mr McEwan as the preferred choice.

Former chief executive Stephen Hester resigned in June following pressure from the British Treasury over his tenure, amid concerns about the direction of the bank and his strategy for its investment banking arm.

An RBS spokesman declined to comment.

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