Inside Track: Sands deserves praise for facing critics

David Hellier
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Say what you like about Standard Chartered chief executive Peter Sands, and many people have in the past few days, he deserves credit for facing his critics.

Sands knows that the performance of the emerging markets bank he runs hasn’t been all it could have been during the last few months.

But on Thursday last week, within hours of his group having to put out a statement to the London Stock Exchange effectively denying he would be sacked, the former McKinsey man was hosting a dinner with senior financial journalists arriving with the scent of blood in their nostrils.

Even the reporter who had done most to undermine Sands during the week was afforded a seat at the table.

What a contrast to a dinner the Tesco team and its former chief executive Phil Clarke tried to organise a few months ago. Then, the retailer deliberately didn’t invite one of its fiercest critics.

The result? The other reporters clubbed together and boycotted the event, leaving Clarke, now departed, with egg on his face.

It seems inevitable that Sands, who has now been in the hot seat for eight years, leaves the bank sooner or later. But he is determined to take Standard Chartered to a better place than it is in right now.

I have a feeling he won over some friends on Thursday night by enduring the questions, albeit difficult ones to hear. It’s sad that the overworked bank chairman Sir John Peace (he’s on two other boards) wasn’t in the room too.

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