By Steve Slater
LONDON, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Nathan Bostock has proved himselfan expert in shrinking bloated banks, yet his retail bankingskills are likely to hold the key to whether he lands the topjob at Santander's British arm.
RBS, 82 percent owned by the UK taxpayer, has many problemsand his departure presents a fresh challenge for Chief ExecutiveRoss McEwan. But his exit could ultimately be more significantfor the succession at Santander and in helping speed a plannedLondon stock market listing.
The Scot will return as head of risk and deputy chiefexecutive at Santander's UK arm, which analysts and bankers saidlooked like setting a clear path to its top UK job once it isspun out and floated.
Santander's current UK Chief Executive Ana Botin has beentipped as a likely successor to her father Emilio, who is the79-year-old chairman of Santander, leaving a question mark overthe top post in Britain.
"This could all be part of a broader succession plan," onerecruitment executive said.
The move also continues a strengthening of the Santander UKteam ahead of a flotation, which has been under considerationfor several years but was delayed by the UK recession and ashift in focus to business lending rather than home loans.
As the UK recovery picks up pace, a float is looking morelikely late next year or in 2015.
Bostock, a rugby fan with two sons who lives at a farm inKent, southeast of London, has kept a low profile and people whohave worked with him said he prefers to stay out of thespotlight.
When he appeared before Britain's Public Accounts Committee- a parliamentary body charged with scrutinising state spending- in March 2011 alongside other RBS and Lloyds Banking Group executives, he did not say a word, letting his CEOspeak on behalf of RBS.
RBS AND SANTANDER HOMECOMINGS
Bostock prepares thoroughly and is well organised, thepeople who worked with him said, which made him an ideal personto get rid of 385 billion pounds ($632.5 billion) of assets RBSdidn't want. "He gets things done and gets people around him whodo too," one said.
Bostock has been at RBS or Santander for most of his workinglife, but has switched roles and companies several times. He hasmostly held risk control, restructuring and senior finance jobs.
The mathematics graduate and trained accountant started atCoopers & Lybrand (now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers )and spent seven years at Chase Manhattan, since absorbed intoJPMorgan Chase (Berlin: CMC.BE - news) , before joining RBS in 1992, where hisroles over a decade included risk director.
In 2001 he joined Abbey National, later bought by Santander,where he had roles in retail banking and as finance director,before leaving in 2009 to rejoin RBS.
The two men had set up a unit at Abbey to deal with troubledassets and Hester called on Bostock to do the same at RBS on afar bigger scale as head of restructuring and risk.
His task was to shed its masses of "non-core" assets incommercial real estate, home loans, asset management, projectfinance and elsewhere.
Bostock had planned to leave RBS in 2011 when another formerSantander colleague, Antonio Horta-Osorio, offered him thefinance director's job at Lloyds, but canceled thatmove when CEO Horta-Osorio took time off for illness.
He stayed on and at one stage was odds-on favourite withbookmakers to get the job as RBS CEO when the bank oustedHester. Instead it picked retail bank boss Ross McEwan, whobegan in October at the same time Bostock became finance chief.
He was paid about 2.5 million pounds at RBS last year and islikely to get a similar amount at Santander, which paid itsprevious head of risk 1.8 million.
McEwan, possibly aware he could see Bostock at future CEOroundtables, wished Bostock well: "I look forward to competingwith him in the UK market as we strive to better the industryfor our customers."
- Board & Management Changes