Ex-Barclays Chief In Frame For Lloyds Role
One of the architects of the legislation that will force Britain's banks to ring-fence their high street lending operations is being considered as a surprise candidate to chair Lloyds Banking Group.
Sky News can reveal that Martin Taylor, a member of the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) in 2010-11, is on a list of names approached about taking over from Sir Win Bischoff next year.
Mr Taylor's presence on the shortlist to chair Lloyds has emerged less than a fortnight after George Osborne, the Chancellor, began reducing the taxpayer's stake in the bank, raising £3.2bn from the sale of a 6% stake.
His name is an unexpected one to feature in the reckoning to succeed Sir Win is a surprise given that his last term in a UK bank's boardroom ended in ignominy at Barclays in 1998.
Lloyds has been searching for a new chairman for just over four months but is in no hurry to identify a replacement for Sir Win, who will not step down until its annual meeting next year.
The task of finding a new figurehead for the bank's board is likely to have been made significantly easier by the fact that the Treasury has begun selling its shareholding. A surge in Lloyds' share price during the last year would, if maintained, pave the way for further disposals ahead of the next general election.
The chairmanship of Lloyds is one of the most high-profile in British boardrooms. Sir Win, a former boss of Citi, the Wall Street bank, was appointed four years ago to replace Sir Victor Blank, who was forced to step down in the wake of Lloyds TSB's rescue of HBOS.
That deal resulted in taxpayers pouring more than £20bn into Lloyds to save the combined group, leaving UK Financial Investments, which manages the Government's stake, to threaten to vote against Sir Victor at its annual meeting in 2009.
Mr Taylor was a trenchant critic of banks' behaviour during the year-long probe into the structure of the industry that was chaired by Sir John Vickers.
He argued forcefully for the system of ring-fencing that will be adopted before 2019 by the major lenders, although Lloyds will be relatively unaffected by the policy because of its limited investment banking operations.
Last year, Mr Taylor recounted how he had been "among the first to succumb to the myth of (former Barclays boss Bob) Diamond's indispensability" as he outlined the need for a cultural overhaul of British banking.
If Mr Taylor was chosen as Lloyds' next chairman, he would have to step down as an external member of the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee (FPC), which he joined only a few months ago. One banker said this weekend there was unlikely to be any question over conflicts of interest with either the ICB or FPC if Mr Taylor did take the Lloyds role.
Since being forced out of Barclays in 1998, Mr Taylor has served as an adviser to the international arm of Goldman Sachs, chairman of WH Smith and then of Syngenta, a Swiss-based agricultural chemicals producer.
The search for Sir Win's successor is being led by Tony Watson, the former fund manager who is Lloyds' senior independent director.
David Roberts, the bank's deputy chairman and another former Barclays executive, is seen as a strong candidate to land the role although it is unclear whether he wants it.
Lord Davies, the former trade minister, has also been linked with it although he has made it clear he is not interested and was this week part of the consortium which agreed to buy a stake in 314 Royal Bank of Scotland branches.
Odgers Berndtson, the headhunting firm, is leading the search, while Lloyds is also about to announce the appointment of a chairman of TSB, the 631-branch network it is spinning off as an independent bank.
Lloyds declined to comment on Saturday.