SIR Victor Blank, who quit Lloyds Banking Group last year in the aftermath of its controversial merger with HBOS, is returning in a few days’ time for a happy occasion.
Blank is there as the guest of current chairman Sir Wyn Bischoff who is hosting an unveiling ceremony of a portrait of his predecessor in line with a Lloyds tradition that dates back to 1868.
The first Lloyds chairman to have his portrait adorning the offices in Gresham Street is Timothy Kenrick, who chaired Lloyds from 1865 to 1868.
The timing of the unveiling of the Blank portrait is noteworthy: for it is nearly two years to the day that Blank and chief executive Eric Daniels sealed the ill-fated merger with HBOS.
Some shareholders are still trying to string Blank up for the deed, but there are others who think the merger may come good in the end.
Blank’s portrait was painted by UK artist John Keane, whose portraits have included the late Northern Ireland Minister Mo Mowlam and Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow. Keane was also the official British artist during the Gulf War.
STRICT DRESS CODE
ON the subject of unveilings, the venerable Terry Smith will cut the ribbon on an a long-awaited statue of WWII hero Sir Keith Park (see right).
Smith, a face so recognisable in the City he is surely in line for a portrait of his own one day, has campaigned hard for the RAF commander.
The unveiling of the memorial, in Waterloo Place, is very much a dressy affair. The Capitalist was slightly relieved to discover serving vice-air marshalls were not required to bring their swords. Full ceremonial dress, however, is mandatory. Even civilians are asked to wear a lounge suit, as a mark of respect.
Park is credited as being the mastermind behind the defeat of the Luftwaffe. As part of the campaign a version of the statue has adorned the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.
SKY’S HARD CUTS
SKY News came up with a novel way to market its new special series on the effects of the Budget cuts. The Capitalist was surprised to receive a solid plastic invitation with a pair of metal scissors attached to it, bearing the Sky News logo. See what they’ve done there? Scissors... Cuts... You already got it? Oh. The day of programmes will “ask where the cuts are already biting and find out whether the public is yet engaged”.
It will be presented by Dermot Murnaghan, which the blurb informs me is “the man who got on his bike to check out the economic cycle in 2009.”
This time he will be presenting in locations from Scotland to the South West of England. Hopefully he won’t be forced to travel all that way on his bicycle or the economy won’t be the only thing in trouble.
Which brings us nicely to what is becoming our daily slot on Boris’ adventures on two wheels. Yesterday he took to the streets again, this time with transport secretary Philip Hammond. The two posed with new bikes before riding off into the sunset. With all this cycling it’s a wonder the mayor has a chance to get anything done. Hopefully, he’ll take some time out of the saddle to attend City A.M.’s inaugural awards ceremony, where he is nominated for Personality of the Year.