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RBS moves executives to prepare for Citizens share sale

A pedestrian walks past an RBS branch in the City of London January 27, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
A pedestrian walks past an RBS branch in the City of London January 27, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

By Matt Scuffham

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland's chief executive Stephen Hester has moved two of his key lieutenants into new roles as he prepares for a sale of shares in its U.S. arm Citizens Financial Group.

RBS said on Thursday Nathan Bostock, currently head of restructuring and risk and a former Abbey National finance chief, will be promoted to finance director in October, replacing Bruce Van Saun, who will take charge of Citizens.

RBS said in February it would sell 20-25 percent of Citizens in the next two years through an initial public offer in New York, after Britain's financial regulator put pressure on the bank to strengthen its capital position.

Analysts have said a full sale of the business could raise as much as 8 billion pounds ($12.4 billion).

Bostock and Van Saun, an American who has been finance director since 2009, have played critical roles in the restructuring of the bank after it was rescued by the British government, with around 900 billion pounds of assets having been shed so far from its bloated balance sheet under a five-year turnaround plan.

News of the appointments was welcomed by analysts and shares in RBS, which is 81-percent owned by British taxpayers, were up 2.9 percent at 293.8 pence by the close of trading.

Analysts said both Bostock and Van Saun were well-suited to their new roles.

"Nathan Bostock is highly regarded and Bruce Van Saun has just managed the Direct Line IPO so has near-term experience doing that. He previously worked for American banks and knows that industry," said Gary Greenwood of Shore Capital.

Oriel Securities analyst Mike Trippitt also said Bostock "had the right background" for the role of finance director.

Bostock worked at RBS between 1992 and 2001, holding a number of senior roles including chief operating officer and group risk director. He re-joined RBS in June 2009 from Santander UK, where he was chief financial officer.

"He has presided over our substantial restructuring program and risk improvements and he will make a great finance director," Hester said in a statement.

Bostock came close to leaving RBS two years ago when he agreed to join state-backed rival Lloyds Banking Group , now headed up by his former Santander colleague Antonio Horta-Osorio, to lead the re-shaping of the bank's wholesale division.

However, when Horta-Osorio took an extended break due to stress-related illness, Bostock changed his mind and opted to stay at RBS "after careful consideration of his position".

Van Saun will take over the Citizens role from Ellen Alemany, one of the most high-profile female bankers in the United States, who will retire after five years running the bank. Alemany has been RBS's top earner during that time. RBS's annual report revealed one employee had earned over 5 million pounds last year and industry sources said that was Alemany.

Van Saun will take up the roles of chairman and chief executive at Citizens. Bostock's current role will be taken by David Stephen, currently deputy chief risk officer.

($1=0.6453 British pounds)

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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