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NatWest names Rick Haythornthwaite as new chair

The former Mastercard and Railsr chair is set to succeed Sir Howard Davies next April

Rick Haythornthwaite/NatWest

Rick Haythornthwaite/NatWest

Rick Haythornthwaite is set to be the new chair of NatWest Group following a row over the de-banking of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage two months ago. 

Haythornthwaite, who has previously been chair of Mastercard, Railsr, Centrica and Network Rail, and is currently chair of Ocado and Embedded Finance, will succeed Sir Howard Davies.

He will join NatWest’s board at the start of the new year and take over from Davies in April.

NatWest has suffered a difficult few months after Dame Alison Rose, the bank’s former CEO, incorrectly briefed a BBC journalist on the closure of Farage’s Coutts accounts, which led to an inaccurate story and her eventual resignation.

Coutts CEO Peter Flavel stepped down the next day, bearing “ultimate responsibility” for the debacle.

Davies was already set to retire and said in April that he would leave the bank the following year as planned, despite calls to leave sooner.

“My intention is to continue to lead the board,” Davies said when Rose and Flavel stepped down. 

“My understanding is that we do have the support of our main shareholder and of the regulators, for us to continue to steer this bank forward.”

The government holds the majority stake in NatWest at 38.5 per cent, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declined to back Davies when directly asked.

“I am inheriting a very different NatWest compared to my predecessor; one that is more customer focused, financially resilient and well positioned to maintain its recent strong performance,” Haythornthwaite said.

“I look forward to working with the Board to build on the exceptional progress made, so we can continue to support the UK economy and deliver for our customers and stakeholders.”

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