Co-op Bank to hire ex-HSBC troubleshooter

Tim Wallace
Follow Tim
HSBC’s former North American boss will return to the banking sector after almost two years to become the Co-Operative Bank’s chief executive and take a seat on the group’s board, the lender announced yesterday.

Niall Booker replaces Barry Tootell who quit earlier this month.

The Co-Op Bank has been in turmoil since it had to pull the plug on its bid to buy 623 branches from Lloyds and ratings agency Moody’s downgraded its credit rating by six notches.

It is sitting on problematic bad loans from its acquisition of the Britannia Building Society, and analysts fear that the sales of its insurance and life arms will not be sufficient to fill its capital hole.

The bank will now hope clean up expert Booker will be able to turn the lender around, before using his experience across the HSBC group to get the Co-Op growing again.

Booker spent 30 years at HSBC, moving to the US to clean up the bank’s North American operations after it was hit by the credit crisis.

He also dealt with money laundering problems at the lender, and was successful enough to become one of the bank’s best paid executives.

In 2011 a reshuffle of management at the bank saw layers of executives removed, and Booker is believed to have taken the chance to effectively retire.

It is thought the 54-year old would have been interested in the top job at HSBC, but was discouraged after the younger Stuart Gulliver was appointed.

However almost two years later he is back in a senior role.

“The board and I are confident that Niall will add tremendous value, helping us work through the complex issues that we currently face as we work to re-position our bank” said Sutherland.

“With his strong background across the banking sector, covering both retail and corporate, he is the ideal person to lead The Co-operative Bank at this important time in its history.”

Meanwhile group finance director Steve Humes is leaving the Co-Op as part of new chief executive Euan Sutherland’s shake up.

A replacement is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.