- Category : Engineer-Aerospace
- Type : PEG
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (31)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Dedication 1
Sir George Mathewson is best known for transforming the Scottish bank The Royal Bank of Scotland from a struggling regional player into a quasi global bank with parallels to Citigroup or HSBC.
Mathewson started his career as a lecturer at St Andrews University where he did a PhD, before moving to United States to work for Bell Aerospace as an engineer in Buffalo, New York (1967–72). He was attracted back to Scotland by the opening up of the North Sea to oil exploration and joined venture capital group 3i, then called Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation (1972–81). He was chief executive of the state-funded economic regeneration organisation the Scottish Development Agency (1981–87). In this role Mathewson led initiatives including the creation of Silicon Glen - using state subsidies to help attract high-tech businesses to Scotland's central lowlands.
When Mathewson became RBS's chief executive in 1992 the bank had been severely weakened by bad debts arising from poor lending decisions, which had been exacerbated by the economic slowdown of the early 1990s. Mathewson restructured RBS's UK operations which included a tightening of credit controls. This earned him a reputation for ruthlessness but gave the bank a solid platform for growth. In 1998 RBS became the first ever Scottish company to make profits of more than £1 billion. He was knighted for services to Scottish business the following year.
The defining moment of Mathewson's career came with the £20 billion takeover of the much larger UK bank National Westminster Bank in February 2000.
Soon after the NatWest acquisition, Mathewson stepped down as RBS's CEO, handing the reins to his deputy Fred Goodwin, who assumed responsibility for integrating NatWest. Mathewson became executive deputy chairman of the enlarged RBS Group. He became chairman in May 2001 following the retirement of former Tory politician Lord George Younger.