One of the City’s top investment bankers has pulled out of the race to be the next finance chief of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the state-backed lender.
Sky News understands that William Chalmers, the co-head of Morgan Stanley’s global financial institutions group, has withdrawn his name from a list of possible successors to Ewen Stevenson, who quit during the summer to join HSBC.
Insiders said on Thursday that Mr Chalmers, who is thought to have been the leading external candidate, had come “very close” to accepting the job, but declined to say why he had ended discussions.
His decision would appear to clear the way for RBS to appoint its interim finance director, Katie Murray, to the job on a permanent basis, although people close to the bank said the recruitment process remained ongoing.
Shares in RBS were hit hard on Thursday by the fallout from a string of ministerial resignations and a possible move to oust Theresa May following her announcement that an outline Brexit deal had been reached with the EU.
As a long-serving Morgan Stanley employee, Mr Chalmers would have been regarded as a safe pair of hands for the RBS CFO role, with chief executive Ross McEwan expected to retire in 2020.
Like Mr Stevenson, Mr Chalmers is a senior City figure who already knows RBS and its biggest shareholder – UK Government Investments (UKGI), the body which manages taxpayers’ stake in the bank – extremely well.
RBS’s recovery has been accelerating over the last 12 months as it has returned to profit and restored dividend payments to shareholders a decade after its £45.5bn taxpayer bailout.
Earlier this year, the Treasury reduced its shareholding to 62.4% by offloading a 7.7% stake to institutional investors.
In his budget this month, Philip Hammond, the chancellor, outlined plans to sell the remainder of the government’s stake during the next five years.
RBS and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.