Sir Howard Davies, the former City regulator heading the government’s airport commission, has emerged as a lead candidate to be the next chair of Royal Bank of Scotland.
The Edinburgh-based bank has been seeking a replacement for Sir Philip Hampton, who has held the role since 2009 following its taxpayer bailout.
Hampton is to become chair of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in September, unless he can be released from RBS earlier.
The proximity of the general election in May has led to speculation that it may be difficult to find a successor until the next government is formed. Sir Sandy Crombie, the most senior non-executive director at the 79%-taxpayer owned bank, is leading the appointment process. RBS has appointed headhunters Egon Zehnder to lead the search for the new chair.
Davies, whose potential appointment was first reported in the Financial Times, declined to comment through the Phoenix insurance company he now chairs and neither would RBS. Treasury sources have said the chancellor, George Osborne, intends to interview the candidates, who are thought to have included Lord Smith of Kelvin, a former banker who conducted a review of Scottish devolution, Dame Alison Carnwath, the chair of Land Securities, and Lord O’Donnell, a former head of the civil service.
Davies first shot to prominence when he was boss of business lobby group the CBI in the 1990s and was the first head of the now defunct Financial Services Authority. He went on to become a director of the London School of Economics although he resigned in 2011 over the university’s dealings with the Gaddafi regime.
He sits on the risk committee of the US bank Morgan Stanley and also the insurer Prudential. He is running the government’s review of UK airport capacity, which is set to choose between Heathrow and Gatwick as the location for a new runway in south-east England.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Monday 23rd February 2015 19.52 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010