LLOYDS BANK IN SCRAMBLE TO FILL VOID

LLOYDS is scrambling to present a convincing new line-up of senior management after a flurry of changes at the top led analysts to label the bank “dysfunctional”.

The bank rushed out an announcement on its selection of George Culmer as new chief financial officer to replace outgoing CFO Tim Tookey, who is currently also acting CEO to fill the void left by chief Antonió Horta-Osório’s sudden departure due to fatigue two weeks ago.

But despite Lloyds’ reassurances that its absent CEO is “continuing to make good progress in his recovery”, expectations of his return were dealt a blow by an abrupt decision by Nathan Bostock, whom Horta-Osório had personally recruited to join the bank, to instead stay put at RBS.

Bostock had been due to take over from Truett Tate as executive director of wholesale banking, but City A.M. understands that in Horta-Osório’s absence, Bostock had also been interviewed and rejected as a potential CFO by Lloyds’ board.

His decision not to join the bank following his rejection will stoke speculation that Horta-Osório is in fact unlikely to return, potentially leaving his close circle of lieutenants at the bank isolated.

If he does return, he will face the prospect of executing his strategic overhaul with a significantly different management team in charge than the one he left behind two weeks ago.

And despite Lloyds’ recruitment of Culmer as a new CFO, which has yet to be rubber-stamped by regulators, the bank failed to dispel the cloud of uncertainty over its future.

Given his 12-month notice period at RSA Group, it is not clear whether Culmer will be able to take over in Feburary when Tookey leaves, raising the prospect of a vacuum in two key roles the top of the bank.

To assuage worries, the board said that non-executive director David Roberts will take over as interim CEO when Tookey departs if Horta-Osório is not back at the helm.

Evolution Securities analyst Ian Gordon called the bank “dysfunctional – but cheap”, adding: “Lloyds’ statement this morning smacks of a knee-jerk response to [a] clamour for ‘clarity’ but provides nothing of the sort.”