Northern Rock in hunt for finance chief after Godbehere departure

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The Independent Online

Northern Rock is looking for a new finance director after Ann Godbehere resigned less than a year after joining the nationalised bank.

Ms Godbehere will step down from the bank's board at the end of this month and leave at the end of February,having earned £900,000 at the bank. Northern Rock said Ms Godbehere,who is paid £75,000 a month, will be paid up to her leaving date and receive no bonus or compensation for a notice period.

The bank said Ms Godbehere's appointment was always meant to be for the "initial phase" of public ownership and that she had stayed longer than she originally intended.

Ms Godbehere was appointed by the Government when Northern Rock was nationalised last February at the same time that Ron Sandler was made executive chairman. Mr Sandler has since handed over management duties to Gary Hoffman, who joined as chief executive from Barclays in October.

Ms Godbehere, 53, has been based in Newcastle during her time at Northern Rock but has travelled backwards and forwards to her home in Zurich, Switzerland, where she was resident for tax purposes before joining the bank.

A spokesman for the bank said the search for a replacement finance director was under way and that if no one was found by the time of Ms Godbehere's departure, the bank has "a very experienced finance team". Mr Hoffman said: "I would like to thank Ann for her substantial contribution to the company during her time with us. The original intention was for Ann to remain with the company for the initial phase of public ownership but she has chosen to stay for a year and, with her input, we have accomplished some key stages in the delivery of our business plan. Ann is now taking the opportunity to step down from the board to focus on other business interests and we wish her well for the future."

The Government faces a court challenge to the terms of its nationalisation next week from former shareholders of the bank. SRM Global and RAB Capital, along with the UK Shareholders Association, are asking the High Court to reject limits imposed on the independent valuer of the business which require the valuer to assume that the bank was not a going concern when it was taken into public ownership.