UPDATE 2-National Australia Bank names former RBS head McEwan as CEO


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* McEwan has also served with Commonwealth Bank of Australia

* NAB CEO, chair had quit in February following Royal Commission (Adds details on McEwan, context on NAB, analyst quote)

By Ambar Warrick

July 19 (Reuters) – National Australia Bank Ltd (NAB) named Ross McEwan as its new chief executive officer, after his predecessor quit earlier in the year following criticism from a powerful inquiry into the country’s financial sector.

McEwan, an industry veteran who has also served with Commonwealth Bank of Australia, joins at a time when NAB and its peers are struggling to regain customer trust after the damaging findings of the inquiry, or Royal Commission.

His appointment also shows that Australia’s fourth-largest lender is seeking a fresh face, in contrast to widespread speculation that had pegged an internal hire for the job.

“Ross is an ideal appointment. He has experience running a large problematic bank and excellent experience in Australia and New Zealand. On top of that, he’s very capable,” said Brett Le Mesurier, banking analyst at Shaw and Partners.

McEwan resigned as CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland in April this year, and in a statement on Friday, NAB said he will join the Australian lender no later than April 2020.

He noted his “only regret” at RBS was falling short on targets to improve customer service, something expected to be a major point of focus at NAB.

The Royal Commission cost NAB its former CEO Andrew Thorburn and former Chairman Ken Henry in February after they were singled out for their apparent unwillingness to accept responsibility for misconduct by the lender. Both men denied that was the case.

NAB had later named interim CEO Philip Chronican as its new chairman. On Friday, the bank said Chronican would transition to the role by mid-November.

Prior to joining RBS, McEwan had also served as group executive for retail banking services with Commonwealth Bank of Australia for five years. “It is a privilege to return to Australia and lead NAB at a crucial time for the bank, its customers, employees, shareholders and the broader community,” McEwan said.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Additional reporting
by Paulina Duran; Editing by G Crosse and Christopher Cushing


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