Sandler new candidate for Lloyds chair

RON Sandler, the man parachuted in to Northern Rock by the government to turn the stricken mortage lender around, has emerged as a surprise candidate to succeed Sir Victor Blank as chairman of Lloyds Banking Group.<br /><br />The bank, which is 43 per cent owned by the taxpayer, has drawn up a shortlist of names for the position, understood to include former Citigroup chairman Sir Win Bischoff, London Stock Exchange chairman Chris Gibson-Smith and Prudential chairman Harvey McGrath.<br /><br />However, Gibson-Smith, who also chairs property firm British Land, is believed to have turned down the job, while institutional investors are concerned that Bischoff is tainted by his former stewardship of struggling Wall Street giant Citigroup.<br /><br />With McGrath only having been appointed chairman of the Pru late last year, Sandler has emerged as one of the front-runners for the role, which would see him give up the chairmanship of Northern Rock.<br /><br />The bank&rsquo;s new chairman will have to deal with a host of problems, including a deteriorating loan book inherited from HBOS and the likelihood that the bank will be forced to dispose of assets to allay European commission fears about competition.<br /><br />However Lloyds could avoid posting disastrous results for the first half of the year due to the use of fair-value accounting rules.<br /><br />Analysts at UBS are forecasting &pound;13bn writedowns on HBOS corporate and home loans in the first half, leading to a loss of &pound;6.3bn.<br /><br />But the bank could see losses on some of its worst sub-prime assets recouped via fair value accounting procedures, pushing gains through onto its bottom line and lessening the bank&rsquo;s losses.