Metro Bank CFO Hopkinson exits after less than 2 years

By Elizabeth Howcroft and Eva Mathews

(Reuters) -Metro Bank on Friday said its chief financial officer James Hopkinson would leave the British lender during the first quarter of 2024, less than two years after his appointment.

A Metro Bank spokesperson said Hopkinson was leaving for personal reasons. Reuters was not immediately able to contact Hopkinson, who joined as CFO in 2022 when Metro Bank was working on a turnaround plan in the wake of a 2019 accounting scandal.

Metro Bank said in a statement that Cristina Alba Ochoa will act as interim CFO from Jan. 15, adding that it has started looking for a permanent successor to Hopkinson.

Shares in Metro Bank opened 1.5% lower, but by 0910 GMT were down just 0.3% on the day. The stock dropped by 69% last year, marking its worst annual performance since 2019.

Alba Ochoa’s LinkedIn profile describes her as a non-executive director and advisor in business transformation.

Metro Bank aimed to challenge the dominance of Britain’s big lenders when it was launched in 2010, but has suffered a string of setbacks, such as accounting errors, leadership exits and delayed regulatory approval for key capital relief on mortgages.

In October, it announced a 925 million pound ($1.18 billion)refinancing and recapitalisation plan, backed by Colombian billionaire Jaime Gilinski, after urgent negotiations to bolster its balance sheet.

It also planned to sell a 3 billion pound mortgage portfolio, but called this off last month, citing market conditions. In November, it announced cost-cutting plans in November, including laying off up to 20% of staff. ($1 = 0.7838 pounds)

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru and Elizabeth Howcroft in London; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Jason Neely and Alexander Smith)