Home Stock & Shares Lloyds Commence Hunt For New CEO After Horta-Osório Announces Impending Retirement

Lloyds Commence Hunt For New CEO After Horta-Osório Announces Impending Retirement

by Jonathan Adams

Britain’s biggest bank is on the hunt for a new chief executive after incumbent António Horta-Osório announced his impending retirement after ten years at the helm. Mr Horta-Osório, 56, will step down at some point between now and next summer. The timing agreed upon is with a view to allowing incoming chairman Robin Budenberg, whose appointment was also announced this morning, time to settle into his new role.

lloyds banking group

Mr Budenberg joins the Lloyds board in October and will take over from Lord Blackwell as chairman from early 2021. With both a new chairman and new chief executive from 2021, Lloyds will enter a new era.

Taking over in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis, Mr Horta-Osório’s time in charge of Lloyds will be defined by his successful oversight of the profitable sale of the government’s 43% stake in the bank. Acquired as a result of a bailout, the stake was sold at a £900 million profit for the tax payer. The bank also met the financial cost of penalties and organisational terms attached to the £21 billion bailout, which included divesting 631 branches.

A well-respected figure in the UK’s banking sector, Mr Horta-Osório announced his planned departure with a message to staff that the decision was taken with “mixed emotions”. He added that he considers the role he will have held for a decade as “a job of a lifetime”. Having assumed the position of chief executive in March 2011, Mr Horta-Osório is now one of the longest serving CEOs of a FTSE 100 company.

While few would dispute that Mr Horta-Osório’s time as Lloyds chief executive has been a success, there has also been a growing school of though that the time was approaching when a new set of skills might be better suited to a new phase for the bank. It is believed that whoever takes on the role next year will do so with a mandate to focus on the bank’s internal culture. A workforce of 65,000 Lloyds employees has gone through a period of cost-cutting and redundancies and needs to be rallied and re-enthused.

Outgoing chairman Lord Blackwell this morning praised Mr Horta-Osório in a note to Lloyds staff, saying:

“We owe him an exceptional debt of gratitude for both what he has achieved and the personal values he has brought to his leadership.”

Among the early names being linked with taking over from Mr Horta-Osório as Lloyds CEO are Alison Brittain, a former head of retail banking at Lloyds. She is currently chief executive of Whitbread, the hospitality company that owns the Premier Inn hotel chain and Beefeater and Brewers Fayre restaurants. Other names that have been thrown into the mix include Co-operative Bank boss Andrew Bester, a former head of commercial banking at Lloyds, and Mark Bailie, who until recently headed up Royal Bank of Scotland’s digital banking operations.

Whoever does take on the challenge will do so at a difficult juncture, with the British economy still expected to be recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are fears a tidal wave of bad debts will hit banks in coming months.

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