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RBS hires Shaw as GC as the ex-Barclays veteran takes one of the top roles in finance law

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has hired Michael Shaw (pictured) as its next general counsel with the former Barclays and Herbert Smith veteran taking on one of the most prominent GC roles in the UK.

Shaw arrives after six years as deputy group general counsel at Barclays, leaving the bank at the end of last year. He inherits a 400-lawyer team that will be kept busy over the coming months with incoming ring-fencing reforms for banks to separate their retail and investment banking arms, and the expected return of RBS to private ownership following its £45bn government bailout in 2008. The bank is also in the process of selling challenger bank Williams & Glyn, which has 1.8 million customers, as a condition of its state bailout during the financial crisis.

Shaw joined Barclays at the end of 2009 from City law firm Herbert Smith, where he had been a corporate partner for over 12 years. At Herbert Smith he advised investment banks on Rio Tinto’s hostile bid for BHP Billiton and EDF on its takeover bid for British Energy.

During his time at Barclays, which saw the bank investigated over manipulation in the Forex and Libor markets, Shaw has held a string of management titles. He was a member of the firm’s citizenship council and the disclosure advisory group, which advises the company on what has to be included in stock exchange announcements.

He was also a past chair of the legal division’s diversity and inclusion committee. He brings much-needed experience to the legal team at RBS, which has been hit by a string of senior departures over the last two years. It follows a three-month search following John Collins’ surprise resignation in December to join Santander. The bank was also hit by the exit of deputy GC Rushad Abadan to insurer Standard Life in January and the loss of its EMEA head of financial crime Carolina Garces Monterrubio to HSBC at the start of 2015.

RBS’s stock with external law firms has also fallen after a series of bruising panel reviews and years of cost-cutting and retrenchment at the banking group.

Collins had replaced the retiring Chris Campbell as general counsel at RBS on 1 January 2015 but resigned less than a year into the role to join Santander UK as director of legal, compliance, regulatory affairs and anti-money laundering. Campbell had served as RBS’s top lawyer for five years, during which time Collins was seen as his heir apparent. During his time as GC, Collins oversaw the $2bn settlement of US litigation against nine banks including RBS, HSBC and Barclays over alleged losses caused by the rigging of foreign exchange markets.

Shaw takes on his new role on 19 April this year.

Read Michael Shaw’s profile here