Lloyds bank picks Santander UK head as chief executive

3rd November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's state-rescued Lloyds bank picked Antonio Horta-Osorio, the head of Spanish-owned rival Santander UK, on Wednesday as chief executive to strengthen its recovery.

"Lloyds Banking Group plc announces the appointment of Antonio Horta-Osorio to succeed Eric Daniels as group chief executive," the lender said in a brief statement.

"Antonio will join the group early in 2011 and will take over as group chief executive on 1 March 2011," added LBG, which is 41-percent owned by the government after a massive bailout.

The confirmed departure of Daniels means that all the top management at Britain's major banks have now been swept away following the devastating global financial crisis.

Portuguese national Horta-Osorio, who has been Santander UK chief since 2006, oversaw the group's rapid expansion in recent years as it bought rival Alliance & Leicester, as well as the savings division of Bradford & Bingley.

In a separate statement, Santander UK said that Horta-Osorio would resign on December 31 to allow an orderly handover to a new successor.

"I would like to thank Antonio for his significant contribution over the last four and half years as chief executive," added Santander UK chairman Lord Terry Burns.

"He has been at the heart of the successful turnaround and transformation of the bank under Santander's ownership.

"He has built a strong management team at Santander UK and consequently the bank is well-positioned for the future."

The group added it will make another announcement "in due course" over the appointment of his successor.

Daniels, 59, had faced criticism after overseeing the 2008 government-brokered takeover of former rival Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), which was saddled with toxic or high-risk investments in the property sector.

Lloyds had suffered huge losses in 2008 and 2009, as bad debts rocketed in the wake of the HBOS rescue and a deep recession. However, it bounced back into profit in the first half of 2010, as bad debts fell sharply.

The appointment comes one day after Lloyds said that it had experienced a "good" third quarter thanks to rising revenues, falling costs and reduced impairments, as the group contined its drive to recover from the crisis.

However, the bank also warned that impairments, or charges for problems and bad loans, remained at a "high" level, particularly because of ongoing problems in Australia and Ireland.

Daniels had already announced in September that he intended to step down next year.

Spanish bank Santander, meanwhile, entered the British retail banking market with the purchase of lender Abbey National in 2004.

The group's British division rebranded as Santander UK, following the A&L and B&B deals, while it has also agreed to buy 318 brances from state-rescued rival Royal Bank of Scotland.

© 2010 AFP

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