Royal Bank of Canada CEO to step down after 13 years

Thu Dec 5, 2013 5:27pm EST
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Canada Chief Executive Gordon Nixon will step down next summer after 13 years at the helm of Canada's largest bank, handing the reins to the RBC's retail banking head, Dave McKay, the bank said on Thursday.

Nixon is the longest-serving of Canada's current crop of bank CEOs, but at 56, by no means the oldest. McKay, 50, had been widely expected to be Nixon's heir apparent, though not quite so soon.

"The timing was a surprise, but the appointment was not," said CIBC World Markets analyst Rob Sedran. "Dave has done a very good job running the bank's largest businesses. I was expecting him to get the job, just not this year.

Nixon's announcement, which came as RBC, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce all reported fiscal year-end results, caps off a changing of the guard at Canada's top three banks.

Rick Waugh, who became CEO of No. 3 lender Bank of Nova Scotia shortly after Nixon took the top job at RBC, stepped down in November in favor of Brian Porter.

TD Bank CEO Ed Clark said earlier this year he will retire in 2014 after 12 years on the job. He will be replaced by TD executive Bharat Masrani.

The three form a cohort that has led the country's largest banks through aggressive international expansion, particularly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Canada's big banks emerged from the crisis with little harm done, partly due to the industry's conservative culture and lending practices. They also benefited from a post-crisis housing boom that some critics warn could turn bust.   Continued...

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) President and CEO Gordon Nixon leaves after a news conference following the bank's Annual General Meeting in Calgary, Alberta February 28, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Sturk