Co-op Bank CEO Andrew Bester to step down

Co-op Bank CEO Andrew Bester

Manchester-based Co-operative Bank plc said on Tuesday that Andrew Bester intends to step down as its chief executive officer and as a director of its parent company The Co-operative Bank Finance plc.

CEO Bester joined the self-styled “ethical bank” in July 2018 to help it continue its recovery from a number of scandals a few years ago that resulted in a rescue by a group of hedge funds.

“… as the bank enters the next stage of its turnaround, Andrew feels this is the right moment for new leadership and a new personal challenge,” said Co-op Bank.

Co-op Bank chairman Bob Dench has begun the process to find Bester’s successor and the CEO has committed to remain until that process is complete.

Dench said: “I would like to thank Andrew for his dedicated leadership since taking up the position of chief executive officer.

“We appointed Andrew for his significant expertise in delivering major transformation programmes and he has ensured that we have successfully completed the ‘fixing the basics’ phase of our turnaround.

“The progress made provides the foundations for the bank to grow and to build a successful future.

“Over recent months Andrew has worked tirelessly to navigate through the national crisis we all face and to support our customers through the pandemic.

“I thank him for the support he has provided during this unprecedented period and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Bester said: “My ambition was to complete the major transformation phase of the turnaround and for our franchise to show resilience.

“At this point, I believe the bank is on the right path and it is time for a new CEO to continue the journey to be the digital ethical bank.”

On July 30, Co-operative Bank plc said it made a statutory loss before tax of £44.6 million in the six months ended June 30, 2020, compared to a loss of £38.5 million for the same period of 2019. 

The bank took an impairment charge of £11.2 million “primarily due to the impacts COVID-19.”

Total income fell to £148.4 million from £191 million. 

Bank analysts were intrigued to see Co-operative Bank saying in its results statement that it is committed “to being compliant with our £550m end-state MREL requirements by January 2022” with the next issuance of MREL-qualifying debt targeted for the second half of this year.

MREL stands for “Minimum Requirement for own funds and Eligible Liabilities.”

The bank added: “Although, the potential for a further deterioration in the economic environment creates risk and material uncertainty over our plans to issue MREL to meet future regulatory requirements.”