Royal Bank of Scotland boss Ross McEwan has resigned after five years at the helm of the part-nationalised bank.

He will work his 12-month notice period until a replacement has been found, RBS announced on Thursday ahead of its annual general meeting in Edinburgh.

Mr McEwan helped to refocus the slimmed-down bank on UK high street lending after a period of massive global expansion that ultimately led to RBS’s demise during the financial crisis.

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His strategy helped to turnaround the bank, which turned its first annual profit in a decade last year. He also faced a number of scandals, including the bank’s systematic poor treatment of thousands of struggling small businesses.

Mr McEwan said: “After over five-and-a-half very rewarding years, and with the bank in a much stronger financial position, it is time for me to step down as CEO.”

He added: “It is never easy to leave somewhere like RBS.

“However, with much of the restructuring done and the bank on a strong and profitable footing, I have delivered the strategy that I set out in 2013 and now feels like the right time for me to step aside and for a new CEO to lead the bank.”

Chairman Howard Davies said in a statement: “For the past five-and-a-half years, Ross has worked tirelessly to make the bank stronger and safer, and played the central role in delivering a return to profitability and dividend payments to shareholders.”

Mr Davies said the search for Mr McEwan’s successor will start immediately.

“The board and I are grateful for the huge contribution Ross has made in one of the toughest jobs in banking,” he added.

“His successful execution of the strategy to refocus the bank back on its core markets here in the UK and Ireland has helped to deliver one of the biggest UK corporate turnarounds in history.”

RBS is expected to face a shareholder rebellion on Thursday over Mr McEwan’s £350,000 annual pension contributions. The payments amount to 35 per cent of his basic salary compared with the 10 per cent typically paid by RBS into its staff pension pots.

Taxpayers still own 62.4 per cent of RBS, more than a decade after the government stepped in to save the lender from collapse.

The government has faced criticism for pressing ahead with plans to sell off its stake at a multibillion-pound loss for the public purse.

RBS has only now begun to benefit taxpayers, having delivered a second straight year of profitability.

The lender saw bottom-line profits more than double from £752m last year to £1.6bn, resulting in a near £1bn windfall for the taxpayer.

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