Last updated: May 13, 2013 7:21 am

Bischoff to take his leave from Lloyds

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Lloyds bank©Bloomberg

Sir Win Bischoff, who has overseen a radical restructuring and return to profitability at Lloyds Banking Group, is stepping down as chairman of the part-nationalised bank this year, the lender confirmed on Monday.

Sir Win, who took up the role in September 2009, announced his decision ahead of Thursday’s annual shareholder meeting. He is said to feel he has accomplished the task of stabilising Lloyds, having brought in a strong executive team.

Although German-born, Sir Win, 72, has always been seen as the archetypal old-school City gent – a reputation that helped him build bridges between Lloyds management, the UK government and commercial investors.

His retirement will allow Lloyds to bring in a new chairman before the year-end, well ahead of the potential timetable for the government to begin the process of selling its 39 per cent stake.

The Treasury is widely expected to begin reprivatising Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, the other bank that was part-nationalised in the 2008 crisis, before the 2015 general election.

Sir Win, a life-long Schroders banker until the company was acquired by Citigroup in 2000, was thrust into the limelight during the financial crisis when Citi elevated him to the role of chairman. He also briefly became the US bank’s acting chief executive after Chuck Prince’s resignation.

He handed the chief executive job to Vikram Pandit in 2007 and stepped down as Citi’s chairman in early 2009, returning to London and joining Lloyds shortly afterwards.

He has faced another challenging time at Britain’s biggest high street bank, given the damage wreaked by the government-encouraged takeover of the failed HBOS in 2008. Within weeks, Lloyds had to be bailed out with more than £20bn of taxpayers’ money.

Sir Win has overseen a radical restructuring of the bank, including the ejection of Eric Daniels as chief executive, and the appointment of Portuguese banker and former Santander UK boss, António Horta-Osório, as a replacement chief executive.

Colleagues say Sir Win had toyed with an earlier retirement, but his plans were put on hold by Mr Horta-Osório’s health scare in late 2011, which forced him to take a three month leave of absence.

“Now everything is stable again, it’s the right time to go,” said one friend.

Tony Watson, Lloyds’ senior independent director, has launched a search for a new chairman, with the bank keen to identify a candidate who combines experience in banking and the public sector. Paul Tucker, the Bank of England deputy governor, is among those whose names have been linked to the role in the past.

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