ANTONIO HORTA-OSORIO: MY WIFE MADE ME TAKE UP LLOYDS BANNER

CITY bankers were shocked last month when Santander UK boss Antonio Horta-Osorio jumped ship to be parachuted into the throne of Lloyds, replacing outgoing chief executive Eric Daniels.

“How could he do it?” the City wanted to know. “What possessed him?” What, indeed? The high-flying Portuguese charmer had to throw in 17 years’ worth of accrued pension benefits, a wealth of goodwill and, most observers assumed, the likely inheritance of the global Santander chief exec crown. And all for the throne of a semi-nationalised, British high-street bank.

Media and analysts started poring over his past for similar signs of aberrant behaviour. But the best clue they could come up with was in Horta-Osorio’s leisure past-times: the guy likes scuba-diving with sharks, for God’s sake. Surely it was the menacing glare of his latest encounter with Jaws that turned him loopy?

Actually, no.

Mingling at a Royal College of Music charity event the incoming Lloyds chief finally let The Capitalist in on the secret ingredient of his move to Lloyds and it wasn’t marine life. It was Ana. Not Ana Patricia Botin, his hard-nosed successor at Santander UK, but Ana Horta-Osorio, Antonio’s wife. Ana Horta-Osorio knows a little about business challenges: she runs her own spa in Lisbon from London, making the flight to check up on it every fortnight. It is, in Antonio’s spousal view “the best spa in the world”.

And when the opportunity to take over Lloyds came a’knocking, it was Ana who urged Antonio to take up the challenge. It seems the bank’s shareholders – not least HRM government – have a lot to thank her for.

UNDER THE TRACKS
We might still have to wait at least eight years for Crossrail, but commuters into Moorgate station have something to be thankful for – if you noticed it this morning. Capacity on First Capital Connect trains has now been increased by 3,800 seats, with three trains doubled in length and seven new services added. In honour of the station’s pivotal position, one of the new trains has been named “City of London”.

And to celebrate this modicum of good news for London’s harried travellers, Lord Mayor Michael Bear has had an unusual piece of street art commissioned (see picture above right). Don’t look down, Bear.

PULLING MY LEG
Sometimes it feels like it’s worth it to say anything to avoid a six-hour plane trip in cattle class. Thanks to a new Virgin Atlantic survey of 3,000 staff, we now know what kind of tricks passengers have tried to play to avoid folding themselves into an economy seat.

Requests for upgrades have come coupled with an unusual array of excuses, from “I’m Richard Branson’s dentist” to “my newborn baby has claustrophobia” and, at the check-in desk in Tokyo: “I am a very tall Englishman”.