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Lloyds Banking Names Scottish Widows’s Blackwell as Chairman

Lloyds Banking Group Plc Headquarters in London
A pedestrian walks into the Lloyds Banking Group Plc headquarters in London. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Britain’s largest mortgage lender, said Norman Blackwell will replace retiring Chairman Win Bischoff in April.

Blackwell, 61, who is currently chairman of Lloyds’s Scottish Widows insurance division, will start on April 3, the London-based bank said in a statement today. He was group development director at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s Natwest unit from 1997 to 2000, before serving at Standard Life as a non-executive director from 2003 to 2012.

British banks are increasingly overseen by executives with some experience working for government. Blackwell, a former policy adviser to Prime Minister John Major, is taking over as regulators step up pressure on the country’s largest lenders to raise their capital buffers to avert future financial crises that sparked bailouts of both Lloyds and RBS.

“Over the past four years, the group has made significant progress in its goal to become a strong, efficient, U.K.-focused retail and commercial bank,” Bischoff said in the statement. “Whilst clearly some challenges remain, the performance of the group is well on track.”

Lloyds rose 1.5 percent to 78.58 pence in London. The shares have increased 64 percent this year, making them the best performer among Britain’s five largest banks.

Private Ownership

Bischoff, 72, said in May that he would retire after steering the bank 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 a 20 billion-pound rescue in 2008.

Lloyds is among the largest U.K. banks forced to comply with tougher capital rules by 2014, five years ahead of an international timetable. The Prudential Regulation Authority said in a statement on Nov. 29 that requirements also include a debt limit, or leverage ratio, that forces lenders to have equity equal to 3 percent of their assets.

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 bank last month agreed to sell its Scottish Widows Investment Partnership unit to Aberdeen Asset Management Plc for 560 million pounds.

‘Extensive Experience’

Blackwell, who is a member of the bank’s audit and risk committees, has “extensive regulatory experience,” having served on the boards of the Office of Fair Trading and the U.K.’s communications competition authority, Ofcom, Lloyds said.

A lawmaker in the Parliament’s upper House of Lords, Blackwell joins RBS’s Philip Hampton, a former chairman of U.K. Financial Investments Ltd., the manager of taxpayer-owned shares in British lenders, while Barclays Plc’s David Walker served for both, the Bank of England and the British Treasury.

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 Ofcom website.

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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