Financial News

  • 15 January 2014, 13:41

City Veteran Poised To Say Yes To Top TSB Job

A City veteran who advises the UK banking watchdog has emerged as the new favoured candidate to become chairman of TSB, the newly-created seventh-biggest bank in Britain.

Sky News has learned that Will Samuel, one of London's best-known financiers, is in advanced talks with Lloyds Banking Group about taking the role ahead of a flotation of TSB on the London Stock Exchange later this year.

Mr Samuel, who is a senior adviser to the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), advised on some of the biggest mergers and takeovers in the City's history during his career at Lazard and Citigroup.

Now a board member at the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office and the company formerly known as MFI, the furniture retailer, he is understood to have provisionally agreed to take the TSB chairmanship.

Discussions between Lloyds and Mr Samuel have intensified since the previous frontrunner, Andy Haste, withdrew from the process following weeks of talks.

Lloyds, which is 33%-owned by taxpayers, has to sell TSB under the orders of the European Commission in return for the 20bn of state aid it received when it was bailed out in 2008.

Lloyds had planned to sell the 630 branches to the Co-operative Group, a plan which was abandoned because of the financial crisis which engulfed the mutual last year.

TSB was relaunched in September and has pledged to restore local banking services to British communities.

The bank has a 4.3% share of the current account market and under the stewardship of Paul Pester, chief executive, wants to increase that to at least 6%.

Lloyds has agreed to provide hundreds of millions of pounds in additional funding to the network to ensure that it is a more powerful competitor to its erstwhile parent as well as other banks such as Barclays and HSBC.

TSB will also make a series of commitments this year about executive pay and transparency of lending decisions as it tries to distinguish itself from its high street rivals, many of whom remain tainted by mis-selling scandals which pre-date the financial crisis.

Among the other candidates interviewed for the TSB chairmanship has been Dennis Holt, a former Lloyds TSB executive.

Mr Samuel's appointment remains subject to regulatory approval, although one insider pointed out that his role as an adviser to the PRA meant it was inconceivable that he would not receive the watchdog's endorsement.

Lloyds has lined up Citi and JP Morgan, the investment banks, to work on the TSB flotation, which is pencilled in for the middle of 2014.

Lloyds declined to comment, while Mr Samuel could not be reached for comment.

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