Oct. 08--Who would want to chair a UK bank at the moment? It is not an easy role. The public and political perception of bankers remains at rock bottom. The tidal wave of regulation and legislation from London, Brussels and Basel threatens to drown even the most dedicated compliance expert.
At the same time, the three banks looking for a new chairman _ Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and TSB _ have all got to sell off a huge bundle of shares to return themselves to private ownership. The Chancellor will be on your back.
But on the upside you can expect a pay cheque of somewhere between pounds sterling 750,000 and pounds sterling 1.1 million a year. You will probably be working no more than a four-day week, allowing you non-executive roles elsewhere. And, of course, you'll get all the invitations to the opera, ballet and theatre that you could want.
Let's start from the back with TSB. An announcement is imminent with a shortlist of two-and-a-half (don't ask) now being studied. Former Lloyds retail banking director and current Beazley chairman Dennis Holt is the front-runner although there is talk of a woman being appointed to emphasise the difference of TSB. Probably not one of Lloyds' own three female directors but a lady retailer might fit the bill.
At Lloyds itself, Sir Win Bischoff is off at next year's annual meeting, and would like to see his successor appointed soon. Martin Taylor, the former Lex columnist and chief executive some years ago of Barclays, is the latest name in the frame. It's difficult to see why he might want the role. And he looks conflicted out.
Robin Budenberg, basking in the success of the first sale of Lloyds shares by the taxpayer, will shortly step down as chairman of UKFI and could simply sashay sideways. He ticks all the right boxes but might harbour ambitions outside banking.
Talk of Gerry Grimstone, chairman of Standard Life, seems to be dwindling not least because at least one Lloyds independent director does not like him.
Deputy chairman David Roberts, also formerly of Barclays, is believed to have ruled himself out of the top job. He might end up Hobson's choice.
Then there is the really big one. Who will step into Sir Philip Hampton's shoes when he quits RBS next year to take on a pretty hot seat at GlaxoSmithKline?
He has just overseen the successful demerger of Williams & Glyn's (which incidentally came with its own ready-made chairman in Philip Green) but will not be around for the start of the sale of the taxpayer's 81 percent stake.
Ross McEwan, the new chief executive, is simplifying RBS but even so it won't be fit for sale until at least 2016.
That means the chairman must be someone prepared to hang around for a goodly time and have strong political nous. Any former Cabinet Ministers interested?