Boss of Bank of Scotland owner Lloyds to step down after decade in charge: Aviva changes

The chief executive of Bank of Scotland owner Lloyds Banking Group plans to step down by the middle of next year after a decade in the top job.

Lloyds Banking Group building at Fountainbridge in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Antonio Horta-Osorio, who has been credited with getting the group on a sounder financial footing in the wake of the banking crisis, said he will leave at the end of June 2021, hopefully giving the coronavirus crisis enough time to settle down before a new boss has to take over.

The Scottish Widows owner has also found a new chairman in Robin Budenberg, who will take over when Lord Blackwell retires. Blackwell had already announced that he would be stepping down, and is due to depart early next year.

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Portuguese-born banker Horta-Osorio, who joined Lloyds after previously heading Santander’s UK arm, said: “It is, of course, with mixed emotions that I announce my intention to step down as chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group by June next year.

“I am lucky to have had the support of a superb board and executive team on whom I will continue to rely as we complete our current strategic plan, transforming the group into the bank of the future.

“Everyone at Lloyds has unified around our purpose of ‘Helping Britain Prosper’, and our customers and communities are seeing our commitment to that now, more than ever.

“I have been honoured to play my part in the transformation of large parts of our business. I know that when I leave the group next year, it has the strategic, operational and management strength to build further on its leading market position.”

Horta-Osorio took a leave of absence in 2011 for eight weeks after suffering from workplace stress.

Budenberg plans to join the board in October this year, before replacing Blackwell in 2021. He was formerly chief executive of UK Financial Investments, which manages the UK government’s stake in the banks it bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis.

He was appointed chairman of the Crown Estate in 2016, helping to manage a £14 billion portfolio. He will continue in this job, but step down from several others before becoming Lloyds’ new chairman.

Blackwell said: “I am delighted to welcome Robin Budenberg to the board as my successor. His knowledge of the group, combined with his broad experience in both financial services and other strategic advisory roles, give him an outstanding background to provide the board leadership required to support the continued transformation of the group.”

Budenberg added: “Lloyds will play a vital role as Britain recovers from the current crisis. It is a great honour and challenge to take on the role of chair at this time, and I hope to continue Norman and Antonio’s work, initially alongside Antonio, in pursuing Lloyds’ core purpose of Helping Britain Prosper and in building the culture of the bank in order to support that purpose.”

Fahed Kunwar, banks analyst at Redburn, said: “A serious loss for Lloyds. For investors in Lloyds, he was one of the critical reasons behind the decision to buy the shares. Over the past decade he has run the bank in a highly centralised manner, with all key decisions going through him. As such his departure leaves a large vacuum as he was seen as defining the strategic direction of the business.

“The timing of his departure also raises eyebrows, as the bank needs to tackle the twin challenges of the ensuing economic recession and the even lower interest rate environment. His decision to leave the bank will be construed that the business does not have much room to manoeuvre and it is set to see returns and profits decline over the next few years. For an ambitious CEO like Horta-Osorio, this was never likely to keep him at the bank.”

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Meanwhile, Aviva, the insurance giant that employs hundreds of staff in Scotland, has unveiled a change at the top after the departure of Scots-born chief executive Maurice Tulloch.

Amanda Blanc, who was appointed to the Aviva board in January and chairs the customer, conduct and reputation board committee, is taking up the top post with immediate effect.

Tulloch has stepped down for family health reasons, the firm said. He joined Aviva in 1992 and held a number of senior positions in the business before being appointed as chief executive in March 2019.

Chairman George Culmer said: “I would like to thank Maurice for his valuable contribution over many years with Aviva. The board and I were saddened to hear of the personal reasons behind his desire to step down and we wish him and his family the very best for the future.

“We are delighted that Amanda will be our new CEO. The board was unanimous in endorsing her appointment. I know she will bring real dynamism to Aviva and re-establish our credentials as a high-performing, innovative and customer-centric business.”

Blanc added: “Aviva is a great company, full of great people, and I’m honoured to be given the opportunity to help shape its future. I want Aviva to be the leader in our industry again.

“We will look at all our strategic opportunities, and at pace. I have been on the board since the start of this year and have a good understanding of where the business has its strengths and what actions we should take across our portfolio.”

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