Stephen Hester, head of Royal Bank of Scotland steps down
London: Britain`s state-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland said Wednesday that chief executive Stephen Hester has decided to step down after five years in the job.
The British government owns 81 percent of RBS after the bank was bailed out in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis with 45.5 billion pound of taxpayers` cash, making it the world`s biggest banking bailout.
The lender was ravaged by its badly-timed consortium takeover of Dutch bank ABN Amro at the top of the market in 2007, just before the crisis struck.
"The board of directors of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBS) today announced that Stephen Hester will be stepping down as the group`s chief executive later this year," said a statement, adding that he would leave at the end of December.
"The board believes that an orderly succession process will give a new CEO time to prepare the privatisation process and to lead the bank in the years that follow.
"Stephen was unable to make that open-ended commitment following five years in the job already.".
Hester added on Wednesday that the group was now ready to prepare for a return to the private sector.
"We are now in a position where the government can begin to prepare for privatising RBS," said Hester.
"While leading that process would be the end of an incredible chapter for me, ideally for the company it should be led by someone at the beginning of their journey."
The Edinburgh-based lender added that the search for Hester`s successor would be spearheaded by chairman Philip Hampton.