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NatWest board prepares to appoint interim boss Thwaite as Rose successor | Business News

The board of NatWest Group is preparing to name Paul Thwaite as its next permanent chief executive as the government readies a mass-market share offering that will slash the taxpayer’s stake in the bank.

Sky News has learnt that the lender’s directors will discuss on Thursday proposals to announce Mr Thwaite, its interim boss, as the successor to Dame Alison Rose alongside its annual results on Friday morning.

Sources cautioned on Wednesday that a final decision had yet to be taken and that other candidates had also been discussed by NatWest’s board as part of the appointment process.

Mr Thwaite, however, is regarded as having done a good job since taking over from Dame Alison in tumultuous circumstances amid the debanking row sparked by the closure of Nigel Farage’s Coutts account last summer.

He was appointed as interim chief for a 12-month period from July, having run its commercial banking arm since 2019.

NatWest is expected to report its most profitable year since its bailout in 2008 on Friday, with banks having been buoyed by higher interest rates.

Nevertheless, the lender is expected to pay a slightly lower bonus pool of about £350m for 2023.

The Treasury is likely to have been consulted on the decision of NatWest’s board by virtue of the government’s 35% stake in the bank.

Sky News revealed earlier this year that Heidrick & Struggles has been enlisted by the state-backed bank’s board to assist with the appointment process.

City sources said that Heidrick’s appointment had been made with the support of Rick Haythornthwaite, NatWest’s chairman-designate, who joined the board last month and takes over from Sir Howard Davies in April.

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The search for a permanent successor to Dame Alison, who left last summer amid the furore created by her inaccurate briefing to a BBC journalist about former UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s finances, has also included external candidates.

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, has outlined plans to offer a significant chunk of the government’s remaining 36% stake in NatWest to ordinary investors through a retail offer, with the general election timing and the bank’s financial calendar meaning that a mid-year sale is likely to be the only viable window to do so.

Dame Alison Rose
Dame Alison Rose left NatWest last summer. Pic: Reuters

Having a new chief executive in place is viewed as being essential for such a sale to happen – a view reiterated publicly by UK Government Investments, the agency which manages the stake, last week.

The government has been steadily reducing its holding in recent years, having at one stage owned more than 80% of what was then called Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

British taxpayers injected £45.5bn into RBS in 2008 to prevent a collapse which would have had dramatic consequences for the wider global banking system.

NatWest declined to comment.

S4C: Committee of MPs calls on government to appoint new chair for Welsh-language broadcaster | UK News

A committee of MPs has recommended the government appoint a new chair for Welsh-language broadcaster S4C.

The chair of the Welsh affairs committee has written to the culture secretary after an evidence session with current S4C chair Rhodri Williams and the lead non-executive board member of the unitary board, Chris Jones.

Sian Doyle was sacked as chief executive of the public service broadcaster in November after an investigation into the organisation’s culture.

The report – conducted by commercial legal firm Capital Law – said Ms Doyle’s leadership style was “dictatorial” and found she was “creating a culture of fear”.

Ms Doyle was admitted to hospital last month following her dismissal.

In a statement released at the time, her husband said she had “suffered a sustained pattern of retaliation, unfair treatment, and bullying at the hands of the chairman of S4C”.

Mr Williams denies the allegations.

“It has been suggested in some of the comments that have been in the press that this is something that I’ve driven, that I’ve made decisions. I would refute those allegations completely,” he said.

Mr Williams insisted while giving evidence to MPs on Wednesday that it was “the right decision” to dismiss Ms Doyle.

Sian Doyle Chief Executive of S4C takes part in a discussion to celebrate 40 years of the Welsh language
Sian Doyle

In his letter to Lucy Frazer, committee chair Stephen Crabb noted “an absence of cultural leadership at board level”.

Mr Crabb said “urgent work” was required to update HR policies.

“We are concerned at the approach Mr Williams and the board took in seeking advice and reaching assurance in relation to key decisions it made,” he added.

He said the committee remained “concerned about the ability of the current leadership to oversee the changes required to rebuild trust at all levels of the organisation and with its wider stakeholders”.

The committee was not satisfied “different complaints made against specific individuals had been handled equitably and with proper consideration of the fair treatment of all those involved”.

The recommendation of the committee is for the government to appoint a new chair, “given the importance of S4C and the scale of the challenges”.

An S4C spokesperson said the broadcaster had nothing further to add to the chair’s previous comments.

Sky News has asked the department for digital, culture, media and sport for its response.

Hannah Dingley: Forest Green Rovers appoint first woman to take charge of men’s professional football team | UK News

Forest Green Rovers have named Hannah Dingley as their caretaker manager – making her the first woman to take charge of a senior professional men’s team in England.

She replaces former Everton striker Duncan Ferguson as manager of the League Two side and takes the reins with immediate effect.

Dingley said: “I’m really excited for this next step of my career. Pre-season has just begun, and the full season kicks off very soon. It’s an exciting time in football.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to step up and lead such a progressive and forward-thinking club.”

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Dingley joined Forest Green Rovers as a coach four years ago and has been in charge of the club’s academy.

She remains the only woman in charge of a men’s English Football League academy after she was appointed to the role in 2019.

During her tenure at the club, Dingley also initiated the launch of the club’s girls academy in 2021 which develops female players – mirroring the men’s set-up.

Forest Green Rovers chairman Dale Vince said: “Hannah was the natural choice for us, to be first team interim coach – she’s done a fantastic job leading our academy and is well aligned with the values of the club. It’s perhaps telling for the men’s game that in making this appointment on merit, we’ll break new ground – and Hannah will be the first female head coach in English (men’s) football.”

Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea set to appoint former Tottenham Hotspur boss as new head coach | UK News

Chelsea football club will appoint former Tottenham Hotspur boss, Mauricio Pochettino as their next head coach.

The 51-year-old will permanently succeed Graham Potter, who was dismissed at the start of April after less than seven months in charge of the club, Sky Sports News understands.

Frank Lampard’s role as caretaker manager will also come to an end at the end of this season.

Taking on the role, Mr Pochettino will have his work cut out.

Despite spending £600m in the last transfer windows, Chelsea are currently in the bottom half of the Premier League, and will end the season without a trophy.

The team will also not play in the European competition next season.

Paul Gilmour, Sky Sports reporter, said the choice of the Argentine was “surreal” but Mr Pochettino “knows how to bring a group of players together. He is very much a people person, somebody who can galvanise and work with what he has got”.

Mr Pochettino has been out of work since being sacked by Paris Saint-Germain last summer after 18 months in charge.

Before that, he managed Chelsea’s London rivals, Spurs, for five years until November 2019, but failed to win a trophy for the north London club.

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said the right choice has been made, given the profile of players that Chelsea have signed.

“They’ve got to appoint a manager who is going to inherit and like the squad that they’ve got – a lot of them are young – and I think that man is Mauricio Pochettino,” he said.