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Co-Operative Group Chairman to Retire Amid Banking Unit Turmoil

Co-Operative Group Ltd., the British mutual whose businesses range from supermarkets to funeral homes, said Chairman Len Wardle will step down as the company prepares to hand control of its bank to creditors.

Wardle will retire in May, Manchester, England-based Co-Operative said in a statement today. He joined Co-Operative in 1992 and has been chairman since 2007.

“In August this year, I informed the board that it was my intention to step down at the end of my term,” Wardle said in the statement. “The Co-Operative is at its best when it is reforming and I want this change to continue.”

Co-Operative is being forced to hand over control of its banking unit as part of a deal to plug a 1.5 billion-pound ($2.4 billion) capital shortfall at the lender. Bank of England Deputy Governor Andrew Bailey told lawmakers in July the main cause Co-Operative Bank’s losses was its purchase of Britannia Building Society in 2009.

-- Editors: Edward Evans, Jon Menon

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