Longest serving bank boss exits

Tim Wallace
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RBS CHAIRMAN Sir Philip Hampton yesterday formally announced his plan­ned move to become chairman of Glaxo­Smith­Klein.

He will make the move in early 2015 when a successor is found – among the front-runners is thought to be Lord Myners, the former City minister under Gordon Brown through the financial crisis.

Hampton will become a non-exec­utive director at GSK in the New Year, and chairman in September 2015.

His departure from RBS marks the end of an era for the bailed out bank.

Hampton joined in 2009 as part of a team with then-new chief executive Stephen Hester, charged with turning the bank around.

The process has been longer and tougher than they had expected, and political pressures helped drive out Hester in summer 2013. Hampton has also outlasted bosses at all the other major banks.

Lloyds was also bailed out following its takeover of HBOS in the credit crunch. Its chairman, Sir Victor Blank, was pushed out and replaced with Sir Win Bischoff, who took the role in September 2009. But he did not stay as long as Hampton, leaving in April this year.

Similarly Lloyds; crisis-era chief Eric Daniels was replaced by Antonio Horta-Osorio in early 2011, meaning he has also held the reins for a shorter period than Hampton.

Barclays was not hit as hard by the financial crisis, but Hampton has out-served a succession of bosses – chairman Marcus Agius quit over the Libor scandal in 2012, and his replacement Sir David Walker is already leaving to be replaced next year by John Mc­Farlane.

SIR PHILIP Hampton is an unusual case of a top banker who has survived the last six years with his reputation not just intact, but enhanced.

He has proven himself able to turnaround a troubled business – even if RBS’ predicament turned out to be far worse than he realised when he took the job in 2009.

And perhaps even more importantly, he has shown his ability to negotiate the twists and turns of political intrigue at the top.

Hampton’s pairing with RBS chief executive Stephen Hester at first appeared a powerful double act.

Together they ruthlessly cut down the bad parts of the business, focusing on the parts which would be profitable for the long-term.

Personally, they were under huge pressure, publicly turning down pay rises and bonuses to show humility – even though their actions would save the taxpayer billions of pounds.

But in the end Hester snapped in the political storm when Hampton adapted to it. The chief quit when he refused to match political goals, prefering to focus on commercial targets.

Hampton survived and prospered – a skill he is sure to need as chairman of GSK, a giant company in the increasingly politicised pharmaceuticals industry.