George Mathewson

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Sir George Mathewson was Chairman at the Royal Bank of Scotland until April 2006 and a patron of the Scottish North American Business Council. The Times named him as 55th in the 'Power 100' list in 2005.[1] In May 2006 it was reported that he was 'to become chairman of London-based global hedge fund management group, Toscafund Holdings Ltd.'

He studied mathematics and applied physics at St Andrews University and gained a PhD in electrical engineering before going to the US to manage research and development programmes in avionics for Bell Aerospace Corporation. From 1972 until 1981 he worked for the Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation (now known as 3i) and then served as chief executive of the Scottish Development Agency. In 1987 he joined the board of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and became group chief executive in 1992. He played a leading role in the acquisition of National Westminster Bank and was appointed executive deputy chairman in 2000, becoming chairman of the Group a year later. He was awarded a knighthood in 1999 for services to economic development in Scotland and to Scottish banking.[2]


When he returned to Scotland in 1972 he worked for ICFC venture capital (later known as 3i) in Aberdeen, at the start of the North Sea oil boom, backing start-up oil services companies such as the John Wood Group.
In 1981, when Sir George was appointed by the Secretary of State to the post of SDA Chief Executive, unemployment in Scotland was at its highest level since the Second World War and the country was in economic recession. One of the major contributing factors to economic decline was the demise of Scotland's 'older' industries. Under Sir George's leadership the SDA focused on creating jobs through investment in the modern infrastructure required to exploit the opportunities of 'newer' industries, including biotechnology, advanced engineering, energy and electronics.
Sir George and the SDA led the way in the promotion of Scottish business and products overseas, and established 'Locate in Scotland' as part of a drive to attract external investment. During his first year at SDA the number of companies which decided to invest or expand in Scotland was the largest ever in terms of total financial investment...Major projects during his term included the St. Enoch development in Glasgow, business parks at Erskine, Oakbank and Inchinnan, the SECC on the Clyde, Dundee Technology Park, Aberdeen Science Park, the winning bid for the Glasgow Garden Festival, and the establishment of Scotland's Silicon Glen in West Lothian.[3]

Career Summary

Company Role Duration RBS Chairman 2001 - 2006 Executive Deputy Chairman 2000 - 2001 Group Chief Executive 1992 - 2000 Deputy Group Chief Executive 1990 - 1992 Director of Strategic Planning and Development 1987 - 1990 SDA Chief Executive 1981 - 1987 ICFC (3i) Various Posts 1972 - 1981 Bell Aerospace Engineer 1967 - 1972 Additionally, he is a Director of Scottish Investment Trust plc, on the Board of Directors of the Institute of International Finance, Inc. and President of the International Monetary Conference. Sir George joined the


Award/Honour Year

in Scotland and to Scottish banking 1999

  • Chief Executive of the Year - Corporate Elite Awards* 1999
  • Honourary Doctor of Laws - University of St Andrews 2000
  • Corporate Elite Leader of the Year* 2000
  • Honourary Doctor of the University - University of Glasgow 2001
  • Honourary Degree of Doctor - University of Edinburgh 2002
  • Transatlantic Business Award** 2002
  • UK National Business Lifetime Achievement Award 2003
  • Honourary Degree of Doctor of Science - City University London 2005
  • Awarded by Scottish Business Insider

He is a past president of the British Bankers’ Association and a director of Banco Santander, the Spanish banking group.

Sir Angus Grossart served on the RBS board with Mathewson from 1987 to 2005. Grossart was an RBS non-executive director from 1985 to 1995 and joint vice-chairman from 1996 to 2005. Mathewson joined Grossart on the board of Scottish Investment Trust (SIT) in 1981. Grossart was non-executive chairman of SIT from 1974 to 2003.



^Biographical presentation on Sir George Mathewson Factsheet prepared by the Royal Bank of Scotland 28 April 2006.