RBS finance chief quits unexpectedly ahead of annual meeting

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Royal Bank of Scotland announced the surprise departure of its finance chief on Wednesday, on the day of its annual shareholder meeting and amid speculation the British government will soon sell some of its controlling stake in the bank.

RBS said Ewen Stevenson was leaving to take up an opportunity elsewhere and it would start looking for a successor immediately.

“The Board and I are sorry to learn that Ewen has decided to move elsewhere. He will go with our thanks for a job well done and our good wishes,” Chairman Howard Davies said in a statement.

Rescued in a 45.5 billion pound bailout by the British government in the 2008 financial crisis, RBS has spent the last decade shedding trillions of dollars of assets and dealing with the legal and regulatory hangover from its pre-2008 global expansion.

The effective date of departure for Stevenson, who is also resigning as executive director, will be confirmed in due course, the bank said. Stevenson was appointed chief financial officer in May 2014 after 25 years at Credit Suisse.

RBS’s senior management has come under scrutiny since the settlement of its biggest outstanding regulatory matter several weeks ago, with questions raised among shareholders about the leadership of the bank through its next phase of recovery and the long awaited transfer back to full private ownership.

Speculation has centred on the future of CEO Ross McEwan, a fellow New Zealander, and the possibility of his departure following the conclusion of a U.S. Department of Justice probe which resulted in a $4.9-billion pound settlement over the mis-selling of mortgage backed securities.

McEwan has dismissed the speculation.

RBS shares were little changed in early trading.