Management on the hoof – Headless Horse edition [updated] | FT Alphaville

Management on the hoof – Headless Horse edition [updated]

It’s all going wrong at The Headless Horse Lloyds Banking Group.

Very wrong.

First, their star hire from RBS has decided to stay put.

RNS statement.

The Group has also been informed by Nathan Bostock, presently Head of Restructuring and Risk at Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (‘RBS’), he will remain with RBS and won’t be taking up the position with the Group as announced on 19 July 2011. As a result, Truett Tate will continue in his role as Group Executive Director, Wholesale, as has been his responsibility for the last 7 years, as well as continuing his role as Vice Chairman, Client Coverage.

Bostock, RBS’s highly regarded restructuring supremo, was poached in the summer to replace Tate, who is close to retirement age.

The hire was seen as signal that Lloyds wanted to step-up a clear out of toxic assets and wind down troubled operations in Ireland and Australia. Bostock was expected to join Lloyds as head of wholesale banking early in 2012.

Second, Lloyds has been forced to appoint an interim chief executive:

As part of its contingency plans the Board has agreed that David Roberts, a non-Executive Director since 2010 and Chairman of its Risk Committee, will assume the position of Interim Group Chief Executive in the event that António’s return were delayed beyond this time.

Now Lloyds says its chief executive, António Horta-Osório, is continuing to make good progress in his recovery from what is widely believed to be a stress related illness. But if that’s the case, why has the board decided to appoint an interim CEO?

At the very least its suggests that Mr Horta-Osório won’t be back behind his desk before the end of the year.

FWIW, here’s Roberts’ bio:

David Roberts, 49, joined the Lloyds Banking Group Board on 1 March 2010. He was previously an Executive Director, member of the Group Executive Committee and Chief Executive, International Retail and Commercial Banking at Barclays until December 2006. He joined Barclays in 1983 and held various senior management positions, including Chief Executive, Personal Financial Services and Chief Executive, Business Banking.

David was a non-executive Director of BAA until June 2006 and a non-executive Director of Absa Group Limited, one of South Africa’s largest financial services groups, until October 2006.

From 2007 to 2009 he was the Chairman and Chief Executive of BAWAG P.S.K. AG, the second largest retail bank in Austria. He is the non-executive Chairman of The Mind Gym.

Update (11:55 UK time): Mr Roberts also, as it turns out, stepped down from the above-mentioned roles at BAWAG for… go on, guess…

David Roberts, Chairman of the Managing Board, announced at the end of August 2009 that he would be resigning from the Bank for health reasons on 15 September 2009.

At pixel time, shares in Lloyds were 1.66p weaker at 23.5p.

Update (12:54 UK time): Sky News is reporting that Lloyds is in detailed talks to recruit George Culmer, the finance director of insurer RSA. Culmer would replace the current finance director Tim Tookey, who is leaving early next year to go to insurer Friends Life. No reports on the health of either finance director, but we’ll let you know if anything surfaces.

Shares in Lloyds rebounding slightly at the time of this latest turn of events:

Update: 3.22pm (London time)
Comment from Ian Gordon at Evolution Securities:

Lloyds’ statement this morning smacks of a knee-jerk response to market clamour for “clarity” but provides nothing of the sort. That said, in Lloyds’ defence, we are not at all sure that there is much that it could usefully have said today. Indeed, if we were to clutch for positives, then the fact that Lloyds has identified David Roberts as (at least) an interim candidate for CEO does suggest that it may have the sense not to waste large amounts of time and money searching for a new external “big name” successor to Antonio (if indeed one is required) when an internal appointment should prove materially less disruptive. We also take comfort from the fact that Chairman Win Bischoff has not been put forward as an interim solution for the vacant CEO role.

Related links:
Is the Headless Horse lame? – FT Alphaville
Headless horse – FT Alphaville
Lloyds chief to step back from helm – FT

Kleinman saying RSA FD to join Lloyds in same role