Debt Management Office boss to step down after 20-year run

Sir Robert Stheeman, chief executive of the DMO, will retire next year
Sir Robert Stheeman speaking to the Treasury Committee last year. Photo: Parliament TV

By Jonathan Owen

02 Oct 2023

The Debt Management Office’s long-serving chief executive, Sir Robert Stheeman, is to step down next June.

Stheeman became DMO chief exec in 2003, after spending 16 years at Deutsche Bank as director of its debt capital markets group. In his 20 years heading DMO, the agency has raised more than £3 trillion of borrowing.

The recruitment process for his replacement will start shortly, and his successor will be in post in early 2024.

Stheeman came to prominence late last year, when he told MPs on the Treasury Committee that the DMO was given less than two weeks’ notice ahead of last year’s disastrous mini-budget. He also revealed that the DMO, which was tasked with raising £74bn to pay for the fiscal proposals, had warned the Treasury that the plans would push up government borrowing costs.

He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 2008 New Year Honours, and received a knighthood eight years later for services to UK government debt management. His wife, Elisabeth, is an external member of the Bank of England’s financial policy committee and financial market infrastructure board.

Treasury permanent secretary James Bowler congratulated Stheeman “for his excellent work” and “exceptional public service”.

Bowler said: “The leadership he displayed at the DMO during turbulent periods such as the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic is testament to his diligence, calmness in the face of extremely challenging circumstances, and deep expertise.”

And Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, paid tribute to Stheeman for overseeing “the continued smooth delivery of the government’s borrowing programme”. He added: “His contribution has been enormous, and he leaves the DMO in a strong position.”

Stheeman described his time at DMO as “the greatest privilege of my working life” and said he had decided to announce his decision now to retire next year “In order to help ensure a smooth handover”.

The DMO was established in 1998. It is an executive agency of the Treasury and is responsible for debt and cash management for the UK government, including selling bonds to raise long term finance.

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