RBS finance chief Van Saun to move to Citizens

ROYAL Bank of Scotland finance director Bruce Van Saun is said to be in line for a return to the United States.

It is understood Van Saun, a US citizen, is being lined up to head Citizens, the bank’s subsidiary, when it is floated.

RBS confirmed plans to sell a stake in Citizens last month and is likely to offload the whole business in due course.

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The bank declined to comment on the speculation, but Van Saun’s departure would leave a big hole in its executive team at a time when its transition into the private sector is yet to be determined and it is still grappling with a return to profit.

Chief executive Stephen Hester has already pledged to see the job to conclusion and it is not known if the bank has lined up a potential successor to Van Saun, who hails from Pennsylvania, where Citizens is well represented.

RBS has also declined to elaborate on last week’s order from the Financial Policy Committee, the body charged with monitoring systemic risk, that the banks must raise £25 billion of capital to plug gaps in their balance sheets.

One source has estimated that RBS would require a further £6bn, raising questions about its ability to continue lending to businesses. But these fears have been played down by those close to the RBS and to the Bank of England.

Half the £25bn is currently factored into calculations from plans the banks have already drawn up, such as the run-off of non-core assets.

There are also plans in place, such as further shrinkage of investment banking operations, selling assets and using financial instruments to raise funds, which are thought to be sufficient to make the capital-raising manageable.

The FPC wants banks to have a core tier 1 capital ratio – a measure of their reserves against loans – of at least 7 per cent to ensure they are safer.

The announcement followed a decision by the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority to ease the ratio on new banks to 4.5 per cent to stimulate competition.

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That decision was welcomed by former Adam & Co chairman Ray Entwistle, who expects to be granted a licence for his fledgling bank, Scoban.

He told Scotland on Sunday that his bank would need to raise a further £30 million in funding this year after the watchdog – which is being replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority – eased the burden.

He estimated that Scoban would have had to raise a “practically impossible” £67m ahead of being awarded a bank licence. The group is set to meet the new regulators for authorisation in May.

Entwistle said: “If we come through the challenge meeting and the plan is fully acceptable, we will go ahead. For this we have to raise capital, build the platform and show the regulator we can operate efficiently. That can take up to 12 months. If you haven’t achieved all that they can take the licence away.”