Leader of the taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Stephen Hester will step down from his role as chief executive, it has been confirmed.
Mr Hester has been at the helm since the axing of previous RBS head, Fred 'the Shred' Goodwin, who departed once the 2008 financial crisis hit. Hester's difficult task has been to try to steer RBS though its difficulties and shrink its bad debt, but his reign has not been without controversy surrounding his pay and other matters. The computer glitches that RBS' retail banking arm has suffered has also drawn criticism.
Hester announced that he had wanted to stay in his role as chief executive of the bank, but the RBS board ultimately decided it was time for a fresh start.
The UK Governemnt Treasury has hinted in recent weeks that it wants to speed up the privatisation the bank, which was bailed out by the British public to save it from collapse, by the end of 2014 at the latest. Hester is believed to have disagreed with this politically motivated schedule to return RBS to private ownership ahead of the 2015 UK general election.
Mr Hester is entitled to a year's salary - believed to be in the region of £1.6 million ($2.5 million) - and could also pocket up to £4 million through deferred share awards.
Earlier this week, think tank Policy Exchange urged the government to make the majority of its shares in RBS available to public bidders, while a minority stake should be dished out to other institutions.
It is thought that RBS - which has now announced plans to shed 2,000 jobs - is now only worth in the region of £19 billion, after shrinking considerably in recent times.
By Claire Archer and Neil Ainger