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Lloyds Said to Be Close to Naming Blackwell as Next Chairman

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Lloyds Banking Group Chairman Win Bischoff
Win Bischoff said in May that he would retire as chairman after steering the partially state-owned bank back from the brink of collapse to profitability. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Lloyds Banking Group Plc is close to appointing Norman Blackwell as chairman, taking over from Win Bischoff, said a person with knowledge of the appointment.

Blackwell, 61, who joined the bank’s board last year, is currently chairman of Lloyds’s Scottish Widows insurance division. His appointment could be completed within the next week, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made public.

Bischoff, 72, said in May that he would retire as chairman after steering the partially state-owned bank back from the brink of collapse to profitability. The government earlier this year sold a 3.2 billion-pound ($5.2 billion) stake in Lloyds, a first step toward private ownership, after Britain’s largest mortgage lender received a 20 billion-pound rescue in 2008.

The shares rose 0.2 percent to 77 pence at 8:42 a.m. in London. They have increased about 61 percent this year, making it the best performer among Britain’s five largest banks.

Lloyds spokesman Matt Smith declined to comment.

The bank named Blackwell chairman of the Scottish Widows insurance unit in September 2012. The lawmaker in the U.K. Parliament’s upper House of Lords retired from the board of Standard Life, Scotland’s largest insurer, in 2012. He served as director of group development of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s Natwest unit from 1997 to 2000.

Cost Cuts

Blackwell holds a Master of Business Administration and doctorate in finance and economics from the Wharton Business School, Pennsylvania, and an MA in natural sciences from Trinity College in Cambridge, according to the website of the U.K’s communications competition authority Ofcom, on whose board he serves.

Lloyds Chief Executive Officer Antonio Horta-Osorio has been seeking to bolster the lender’s balance sheet by selling assets, cutting costs and eliminating jobs following the bank’s bailout. The London-based bank said earlier this month it agreed to sell its Scottish Widows Investment Partnership unit to Aberdeen Asset Management Plc for 560 million pounds.

The bank may also sell a “significant proportion” of its remaining 22 percent stake in wealth manager St. James’s Place Plc early next month, according to Barrie Cornes, a London-based analyst at Panmure Gordon & Co.

Board Appointment

Lloyds said last month its third-quarter loss widened after setting aside an additional 750 million pounds to compensate clients wrongly sold loan insurance. The provision brings the total earmarked to redress customers sold payment protection insurance that didn’t cover them or they didn’t need to about 8.1 billion pounds, the most among U.K. banks.

The lender said in a statement today that it appointed Chief Risk Officer Juan Colombas to the board.

“Juan has significant banking and risk management experience,” Bischoff said in the statement.

Lloyds said last month it has started talks with the U.K. regulator about resuming dividend payments and will provide an update on timing at the year-end results. It paid a cash dividend in 2008, before its takeover of HBOS Plc led to its bailout by the government.

The Financial Times reported yesterday that Lloyds was close to naming Blackwell chairman.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gavin Finch in London at gfinch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simone Meier at smeier@bloomberg.net

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