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After a decade, he is finally stepping down. No, not Tony Blair. Hugh Scott-Barrett has resigned as finance director of ABN Amro. Not a huge surprise, as he would not have had as senior a role in the structure envisaged under a Barclays takeover, which is not a great surprise either. It is also unlikely that if RBS were to prevail in the battle for ABN that Sir Fred Goodwin would have much room for him. A nice man, he joined ABN in 1996 as head of its European corporate finance business. He had previously worked for Kleinwort Benson and Swiss Bank Corporation but left shortly after SBC bought SG Warburg, the London-based investment bank.
Lord Browne seems to have resolved Goldman Sachs’ dilemma by resigning from the bank’s board after it dithered on his position. Perhaps one reason Goldman appeared oddly unsure of itself lay in the letter which appeared in the FT on Saturday in support of Lord Browne. Most of the 67 people who signed it are heavy-hitters in a position to influence how Goldman is viewed and what business it gets, not just from their own companies but from other companies whose boards they sit on. Another possible reason for Goldman’s indecision was that it may have been waiting to hear whether perjury charges were brought.
We have other banking news today. National Australia Bank says it is more likely to buy banks in the UK, where it owns the Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks, than to sell them. It is not long since NAB was expected to pull out of the UK but the business has been improving. Also, Barclays is cutting about 1,000 jobs in Dorset.
Rio Tinto shares, which seem to have become the latest victim of computerised momentum trading yesterday when they jumped 21 per cent, are off 2.4 per cent today. Although the talk of a bid from BHP Billiton seems wide of the mark, there was talk last night of stake-building.
Babcock International has confirmed our story this morning that it has entered into an agreement to buy the Devonport naval dockyard for £350m.