Sleepless in the City: Lloyds boss explains his absence

LLOYDS chief António Horta-Osório admitted that he had not been able to sleep for five days in a row before going on sick leave last month.

The exhausted executive returned to his bank’s HQ in Gresham Street yesterday to shake hands and demonstrate what chairman Sir Win Bischoff called his new, “bushy-tailed” condition following almost six weeks’ leave.

In an attempt to shore up confidence in his planned return to work on 9 January, he also splashed out £146,000 on Lloyds shares.

But many analysts continue to see the stock as a “punt”. Seymour Pierce’s Bruce Packard said that Lloyds is still not investable despite bringing back its star chief exec and agreeing a deal with the Co-op to sell 632 branches.

“Even when they sell [the branches], the loans-to-deposit ratio will be 141 per cent,” said Packard.

He added that the bank should tackle the problem by forcing its mortgage-holders to convert to repayment, rather than interest-only, loans.

Doing so, he said, would “make the stock ‘investable’ rather than a punt”, but would cause “shrieks of protest”.

Horta-Osório said yesterday that upon going on leave he retreated to high-end rehab centre the Priory, famous for celebrity patients such as the late Amy Winehouse and Robbie Williams. After a week, he then went home to sleep for eight hours a night.