Former Bank of England Deputy Governor Paul Tucker, who lost out on the top job at the central bank after being drawn into the Libor-rigging scandal, was given a knighthood in Britain’s New Year’s honors list.
Tucker “made a substantial contribution to the stability of the U.K. economy and financial system,” according to the citation published by the Cabinet Office in London yesterday. As a knight, he’ll be entitled to put “Sir” in front of his name and will receive his honor from Queen Elizabeth II or another member of the royal family in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Tucker, 55, a three-decade veteran of the central bank, was the favorite to replace Mervyn King as governor this year. He left the bank in October, less than 12 months after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne appointed Mark Carney, who was head of the Bank of Canada, instead. Tucker is now a senior fellow at Harvard Business School.
``This is a great honor,'' Tucker said in an e-mailed statement, calling it ``a tribute to the people with whom I worked for many years in the pursuit of stability, without which the economy cannot flourish.''
Among more than 1,000 others honored in the semi-annual list are Land Securities Plc Chairman and former Barclays Plc director Alison Carnwath. Also rewarded are Kingfisher Plc Chief Executive Officer Ian Cheshire, former Lord Mayor of London Roger Gifford, sculptor Antony Gormley, composer Peter Maxwell Davies and actress Penelope Keith. For the first time, women outnumber men on the list.
Tucker saw his chances of the central-bank governorship diminish last year when he was dragged into the scandal surrounding the benchmark London interbank offered rate over a 2008 conversation he had with former Barclays Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond. He was also criticized by lawmakers for failing to act on signs that the benchmark rate was vulnerable to manipulation.
Asked by lawmakers on Parliament’s Treasury Committee in July 2012 about a November 2007 meeting of bankers and regulators where the issue of false Libor rates was raised, Tucker said it “didn’t set alarm bells ringing.”
“This doesn’t look good, Mr. Tucker,” the panel’s chairman, Conservative Party lawmaker Andrew Tyrie, said at the hearing.
At a briefing for reporters in London, the head of the U.K. civil service, Bob Kerslake, was asked whether some people might be surprised by Tucker’s honor. Kerslake said the nomination had been approved by an independent economy committee, one of nine specialist panels that vet the awards.
Tucker was thus honored “on the basis of merit considered by his economic peers,” Kerslake said, “after a long and distinguished career.”
While at the Bank of England, Tucker “led reforms in the 1980s-90s to payments systems, the gilts market and the bank’s monetary operations,” according to the citation. “He was instrumental to the success of the 1997 reforms that granted the bank independence; and, in the aftermath of the banking crisis, he has driven reforms to build a stronger, more resilient international financial system.”
Carnwath, 60, was named a dame, the female equivalent of a knight, for being “a role model for women in business, being one of the very few to chair a FTSE 100 company,” according to the citation. It said “she adopted a robust attitude to bonus payments” at Barclays (BARC) and “shifted remuneration at Land Securities (LAND) towards longer-term incentives.”
Carnwath was among a number of senior Barclays figures who stepped down in 2012 after the lender was fined 290 million pounds ($478 million) for its role in manipulating Libor. As head of the remuneration committee, she’d been under growing pressure to leave after approving a 12 million-pound compensation package for Diamond, the highest of any British bank CEO.
In a written submission to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards in January this year, she said Diamond was reluctant to tackle “obscene” levels of pay as he was overly protective of investment bankers.
Cheshire, 54, was also awarded a knighthood. He became CEO of Kingfisher (KGF) in January 2008 after spending a decade in executive roles at the B&Q home-improvement chain and the retailer’s international division. Since his appointment, the shares have almost tripled as Kingfisher has boosted profitability by purchasing more own-brand products directly from factories. Cheshire became chairman of the British Retail Consortium in October 2012, a position he’s due to hold for two years.
Gifford, 58, who served a 12-month term until November as the figurehead for the City of London financial district, also becomes a knight.
Companion of Honour
The highest award in today’s list went to Maxwell Davies, cited for being “one of the most influential contemporary British composers.” He becomes a Companion of Honour, joining an order of which there are only 65 members at any time.
Also in the arts, there’s a knighthood for Gormley, whose works include the iconic “Angel of the North,” dominating the skyline outside Gateshead in northeast England.
Two actresses are made dames for their charity work -- Penelope Keith, who became famous for her role in the 1970s BBC television comedy “The Good Life,” and Angela Lansbury, known for the U.S. TV series “Murder, She Wrote.”
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