Tuesday 23 July 2019 9:27 pm

Metro Bank’s Vernon Hill to step down despite saying he’d die in job

Metro Bank is set to part ways with its controversial chairman and co-founder Vernon Hill just two weeks after he said he would “probably die” in the role.

Read more: Metro Bank drafts in two senior directors

The high-street lender will announce it is launching a search for a new chairman when it posts its half-year results tomorrow, according to Sky News.

The 73-year-old American has been under pressure from investors since Metro revealed an accounting error at the start of the year that had classed some of its assets as less risky than they were. 

In May the under-fire lender was forced to raise £375m to strengthen its balance sheet amid rumours about its financial health. Metro’s share price has plunged over 70 per cent since January to around 500p.

Metro Bank is unlikely to give an exact leaving date for Hill or say whether he will stay on the company’s board, according to Sky News sources. The bank declined to comment.

Hill co-founded Metro Bank in 2010 with entrepreneur Anthony Thomson, launching the first new UK retail bank in over 100 years.

As chairman he oversaw a rapid expansion into the UK market that Metro said was based on its customer service, exemplified by Hill’s policy to encourage customers to bring their dogs to branches.

Yet Hill drew criticism in 2018 after Metro paid £4.5m to his wife Shirley Hill’s firm for design and marketing services. The arrangement was later unwound.

Hill and chief executive Craig Donaldson drew the ire of their shareholders at Metro’s annual general meeting in May, with 12 per cent voting against the reappointment of Hill to the board. 

Over 20 per cent of shareholders voted against the proposed pay for the lender’s directors. Shareholder advisors ISS had recommended investors vote against the pay plans and abstain from re-electing Hill in protest at what 

It also advised shareholders to abstain on the vote to re-elect the respective chairs of Metro’s risk and audit committees.

Read more: Metro Bank confirms £500m Cerebus loan sale talks

Despite this Hill was adamant he would stay at Metro. Earlier this month he said the idea he would stand down was “gossip”. He said: “I founded Metro Bank in 2010, and I’ll probably die there.”

(Image credit: Getty)