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Metro Bank founder steps down with immediate effect as chairman

·Finance and policy reporter
Founder and Vice Chairman  Vernon Hill II with his dog Duffy, outside the newly opened Metro Bank branch in Holborn, central London. The first high street bank to launch in the UK for more than 100 years opened its doors to customers today but its products received a lukewarm response from industry commentators.   (Photo by John Stillwell/PA Images via Getty Images)
Metro Bank co-founder steps down as chairman. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Images via Getty Images

The co-founder of troubled Metro Bank Vernon Hill II has stood down as chairman “with immediate effect,” according to the bank.

The bank (MTRO.L) said its chairman would remain a non-executive director until 31 December this year, but only stay on in an honorary position beyond that as “emeritus chairman” in recognition of his contributions to the bank.

The announcement marks a surprise acceleration of his departure as chair, after the struggling lender previously said he would stay on in that role until the end of the year.

Hill played a central role in the launch of Metro Bank in 2010, rolling out dozens of branches in what was reported to be the first new bricks-and-mortar bank launch in a century.

But the bank has faced a tumultuous year that has wiped out much of its share price, after it admitted it had misclassified some loans and did not have enough capital to meet bank regulations.

READ MORE: Troubled bank founder set to leave after a dreadful year

It was forced to raise £375m, and even had to pull one bond issue because of low investor interest despite offering eyecatchingly high yields.

Sir Michael Snyder has been named as the new interim chairman subject to regulators’ approval, before a permanent successor is confirmed.

Snyder said in a regulatory filing: "The Board thanks Vernon for his vision which inspired and created Metro Bank ten years ago. He leaves a lasting legacy of creating fans through exceptional customer service and has revolutionised British banking."

Metro Bank's share price over the past year. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK
Metro Bank's share price over the past year. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK

Hill said: "I wish all of our fans - Metro Bank's customers, colleagues and shareholders - every success for the next stage of the journey. As always, the best is yet to come."

Hill’s exit comes after investors called for change at the top at the bank as it works to turn itself around.

Metro Bank’s strategy of opening a network of high street branches cuts against the trend, with other banks shuttind down branches at a record rate or launching as online-only startups.

American Hill is seen as an unconventional figure in banking, calling customers “fans, ”often appearing in photos with his Yorkshire terrier Duffy and facing criticism for claiming expenses to travel on private jets.

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