Monday 26 February 2018

Top Lloyds role for Santander chief

Antonio Horta-Osorio will join Lloyds early next year. Photo: PA
Antonio Horta-Osorio will join Lloyds early next year. Photo: PA

Lloyds Banking Group named Santander's UK boss, Antonio Horta-Osorio, as successor to outgoing chief executive Eric Daniels today.

Mr Horta-Osorio will join taxpayer-backed Lloyds early next year before taking on the top post on March 1, according to the group.

He has been UK chief executive at Spanish banking group Santander since August 2006, overseeing the group's recent rapid expansion in the UK as it snapped up Bradford & Bingley's savings business and Alliance & Leicester.

Mr Horta-Osorio will resign as chief executive of Santander on December 31 and join Lloyds "in principle" on January 10.

The appointment comes less than two months after Lloyds announced that Mr Daniels was planning to retire in a year's time.

Mr Daniels, 59, has come under fire following the bank's troubled rescue of Halifax Bank of Scotland at the height of the financial crisis.

He has been chief executive since June 2003.

The group released its third-quarter update yesterday, but would only say at the time that the search for a new chief executive "continues at pace".

Mr Daniel's departure marks a clean sweep at the top of the UK's major banks since the sector meltdown in 2008.

Barclays announced in September that investment banking head Bob Diamond would take over from John Varley as chief executive next year, while HSBC said on the same day that its executive chairman, Stephen Green, was leaving to join the Government as Trade Minister.

The market will also now speculate on whom Santander plans to appoint to replace Mr Horta-Osorio - an important post in UK banking given that it is now Britain's third largest bank by deposits.

Santander said it would make an announcement "in due course" about its new UK head.

The group entered the UK sector in 2004 when it bought the former Abbey National business.

Following the subsequent B&B and A&L deals, it has since rebranded under the Santander name in the UK and is soon to expand further as it ties up a deal to buy more than 300 branches from Royal Bank of Scotland.

Mr Horta-Osorio has worked at Santander since 1993, previously acting as chief executive of its Portuguese business and head of Santander Brazil.

He started his career at Citibank in Portugal as head of capital markets before working at Goldman Sachs in New York and London.

Lord Burns, chairman of Santander UK, thanked Mr Horta-Osorio for his "significant contribution" as chief executive over the last four and a half years.

"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."

At Lloyds, he joins as the group is turning the corner after two years of devastating losses following the HBOS deal and financial crisis.

It said yesterday that it was on track for full-year profits - its first since being bailed out by the Government - after a good third quarter.

Lloyds, which is 41% owned by taxpayers, surprised the market earlier this year with better-than-expected interim profits of £1.6 billion.

But there are concerns over its vulnerability to housing market shocks and borrower woes amid the Government's spending cuts.

Shares in Lloyds dropped 3% as analysts fretted about less positive wording in its update, but rose 2% on today's news.

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