LONDON (Reuters) - The British arm of Spanish bank Santander has appointed Nathan Bostock as chief executive, handing the former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) finance director the task of overseeing a planned London listing.
Bostock, 53, succeeds Ana Botin, who was appointed chairwoman of Madrid-based Santander Group (SAN.MC) following the death of her father Emilio Botin earlier this month. Bostock takes the UK CEO role with immediate effect.
Bostock was appointed deputy chief executive of Santander UK last December with a view to being Ana Botin’s successor, but took up the job only last month after serving a lengthy notice period at RBS.
Botin, who will stay on the Santander UK board as a non-executive director, had been expected to oversee an initial public offering (IPO) of Santander UK shares in London in the next two years before handing over to Bostock.
Santander UK, the biggest contributor to Santander’s overall profit in the first half of 2014, is one of a number of British banks considering an IPO.
Banks are responding to demand from investors who see UK retail banking stocks as offering exposure to Britain’s economic recovery and expect banks to benefit from improved margins when interest rates rise.
Lloyds on Friday sold a further 11.5 percent stake in TSB TSB.L which it spun off earlier in the year, in a share placing that was covered several times over and attracted investors from the United States as well as Europe.
Virgin Money [IPO.VHH.L] is expected to announce its intention to float within days and challenger bank Aldermore is meeting investors ahead of a listing next month. OneSavings Bank (OSBO.L) listed in London earlier this year.
Bostock has been employed at RBS or Santander for much of his working life, but has switched roles several times. He joined RBS in 1992, before departing for Abbey National, which was later bought by Santander, in 2001. In 2009, he left Santander to rejoin RBS as head of restructuring and risk.
Bostock didn’t take up the role of Botin’s deputy until August because RBS bosses, stunned by his decision to quit as finance director after just ten weeks in that role, forced him to serve out a long period of notice.
Despite that, Santander’s board has decided he is ready to become chief executive and the appointment prevents its UK business facing a prolonged period of boardroom upheaval. The bank is also searching for a successor to Chairman Terry Burns who is due to retire at the end of the year.
Burns said Bostock’s appointment would enable a “continuity of vision and strategy”.
“He brings a strong understanding not just of Santander UK, having worked for us as an executive director up until 2009, but also of the wider UK banking industry, regulatory environment and economic climate,” Burns said.
Santander UK reported a pretax profit of 545 million pounds in the first half of 2014. The bank has benefited from an improved margin and from attracting more customers to its 123 account, which offers a higher-than-usual interest rate on balances up to 20,000 pounds and cashback on utility bills.
It has been one of the main beneficiaries of new rules that make it easier for customers to switch banks.
Editing by Keith Weir