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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.

Liz Truss cancels BBC interview with a week to go until Boris Johnson’s successor is announced | Politics News

Liz Truss has cancelled a scheduled interview on the BBC with just a week to go before the next Conservative Party leader is announced.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Liz Truss has cancelled her BBC One interview with Nick Robinson which was due to air this Tuesday evening (30 August) at 7pm.

“Ms Truss’s team say she can no longer spare the time to appear on Our Next Prime Minister.

“The other candidate for the Conservative leadership, Rishi Sunak, was interviewed by Nick on 10 August.

“We regret that it has not been possible to do an in depth interview with both candidates despite having reached agreement to do so.”

Mr Sunak’s team suggested that Ms Truss is avoiding “proper scrutiny” as she “doesn’t have a plan” to help people manage their soaring energy bills.

A source from the former chancellor’s campaign said: “Its important that candidates face proper scrutiny so that members and the public know what they are offering.

“Avoiding that scrutiny suggests either Truss doesn’t have a plan at all or the plan she has falls far short of the challenges we face this winter.”

Labour shadow minister Conor McGinn added: “People will rightly conclude that she doesn’t want to answer questions about her plans for the country because she simply hasn’t got any serious answers to the big challenges facing our country.”

Mr Robinson said he was “disappointed and frustrated” that his interview with Ms Truss had been cancelled.

The winner of the leadership race – and next prime minister – will be announced on 5 September.

The contest was triggered after Boris Johnson was forced to resign following a number of scandals.

Foreign Secretary Ms Truss has been widely tipped as the frontrunner for much of the race.

The final Tory leadership hustings will take place this Wednesday in London.

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What’s the state of the Tory leadership race?

The victor will face growing pressure to announce further support to get households and businesses through the cost of living crisis as soon as they get the keys to Number 10.

It follows Friday’s announcement from Ofgem that the energy price cap would rise by 80% come October, leading to the average household paying £3,549 a year for their gas and electricity.

Mr Johnson has insisted it is up to his successor to decide what action to take.

A government spokesperson said the Civil Service is “making the appropriate preparations in order to ensure that any additional support or commitments on cost of living can be delivered as quickly as possible when the new prime minister is in place”.

Earlier on Monday, former Conservative cabinet minister Rory Stewart said Mr Johnson could try to force his way back into office.

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Johnson ‘profoundly unsuited’ to be PM

Mr Stewart – who stood against the PM for the Tory leadership in 2019 – told the BBC Mr Johnson was a “terrible prime minister”.

He likened the PM to former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi and ex-US president Donald Trump who are both plotting comebacks.

Mr Stewart also accused the outgoing prime minister of having “an extraordinary ego” and said Mr Johnson “doesn’t see the reality, which is he was a terrible prime minister and that he lost his job because of deep flaws of character”.

“I fear we are going to end up with a second [Silvio] Berlusconi or a second [Donald] Trump trying to rock back in again,” he continued.

Meanwhile, polling has suggested Conservative voters would choose Mr Johnson to stay on over either candidate if they had the chance.