Co-op's Len Wardle to quit as chairman of floundering lender

Co-op's Len Wardle is to step down as chairman in May of next year, in the thick of a crisis which has seen the mutual lose majority ownership of its bank. (Release)

The bank, which is set to be taken over by American hedge funds, saw Wardle quit the board last month. He has been chairman of the Co-op since 2007.

Wardle has said in a statement that an independent chair should be appointed to replace him.

In a statement this afternoon he said that he will be handing in his notice to the mutual on 2 November, giving up his chairmanship in May 2014. He continued: "in August this year, I informed the Board that it was my intention to step down at the end of my term of office whilst also making clear that I wanted to drive hard the reforms to modernise the Group... The Co-operative is at its best when it is reforming and I want this change to continue."

Wardle said that the Group should looks for an independent chair to replace him.

The Group's CEO, Euan Sutherland, thanked Wardle for his "leadership and committment" to the Co-op, adding "under his guidance we have made significant progress on beginning the reform which we will announce as planned in May 2014."

The news follows the grilling of former chief executive Peter Marks before the treasury select committee earlier today.