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Canada's RBC splits personal and commercial banking unit, rejigs leadership

Illustration shows Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) logo

By Pritam Biswas and Nivedita Balu

(Reuters) -Royal Bank of Canada on Thursday said it would separate its personal and commercial banking business into two standalone segments and made a slew of leadership changes, the Canadian lender's first rejig since acquiring HSBC's domestic unit.

The country's No.1 lender said it aims to strengthen focus on clients after the C$13.5 billion acquisition of the Canadian unit of HSBC Holdings, HSBC Bank Canada.

Doug Guzman, who is currently the group head of RBC's wealth management and insurance unit and has held the position for the past nine years, will become deputy chair. Neil McLaughlin, group head of RBC's personal and commercial banking unit since 2017, would succeed Guzman.

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The executive changes will be effective Sept. 1.

Insiders Erica Nielsen and Sean Amato-Gauci will become group heads of RBC personal banking and RBC commercial banking, respectively.

The rare shakeup under CEO Dave McKay, who completes a decade at the top seat, comes as the bank looks to fill its finance chief role after former CFO Nadine Ahn was terminated by the bank following an investigation that found she had violated the bank's code of conduct. Katherine Gibson has been serving as the interim CFO since April.

"We are surprised that there was no resolution on the bank's CFO position in conjunction with the announcements with Katherine Gibson still retaining the 'interim' tag," Jefferies analyst John Aiken wrote.

Aiken noted that he does not anticipate any immediate announcements on McKay's departure despite the shakeup.

The bank also appointed Jennifer Publicover, who has been the CEO of RBC Insurance since 2023, to the role of group head, RBC insurance.

RBC said the personal and commercial banking businesses have grown in size and scale following the acquisition of HSBC Bank Canada with "tremendous opportunity" for growth in both.

"This model is a common one among global banks," a spokesperson said.

The bank, which has a market capitalization of about C$213 billion ($156.65 billion), will have five reporting segments effective fourth quarter of 2024.

($1 = 1.3597 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Pritam Biswas in Bengaluru and Niveidta balu in Toronto; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Franklin Paul)