In a surprise move, Britain’s biggest high-street lender Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) announced it had picked relative outsider Charlie Nunn to take over from outgoing chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio next year.

Back in July the bank announced Horta-Osorio’s decision to depart next June, after 10 years in the top job, along with a change of chairman as the former head of UK Financial Investments Robin Budenberg takes over from Lord Blakewell from 1 January.

Nunn, currently global chief executive of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC (HSBA), joined the Asia-focused bank in 2011 and has experience in running wealth management and core retail banking.

High-profile rivals for the top job were rumoured to include Stephen Hester, the former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland – where he led the largest ever corporate restructuring – and current chief executive of insurer RSA (RSA), which is being acquired by a consortium of Denmark’s Tryg A/S and Intact Financial Corporation.

According to AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould, ‘poaching Nunn from a senior role at rival HSBC may feel like a coup but it is fraught with some complication given his notice period and other restrictions.’

The new chief executive ‘faces a pretty stiff test’ adds Mould. ‘Horta-Osorio was leading Lloyds out of a crisis, yet Nunn will be leading the company as it heads straight into one – with the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy yet to hit.’

Meanwhile, weekend press reports suggested HSBC could retreat from retail banking in the highly-competitive US market in order to improve returns in its North American business.

Lloyds shares, which have jumped more than 50% since their September low of 24p, added 0.3% to 37.4p while HSBC shares, which have rallied more than a third since their September low of 283p, gave up 2% to 396p.

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Issue Date: 30 Nov 2020