No.10 adviser set for Lloyds chair

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A former Downing Street adviser to John Major and Margaret Thatcher is tipped to become the next chairman of state-backed Lloyds Banking Group.

Lord Blackwell will replace outgoing chairman Sir Win Bischoff early next year, according to newspaper reports.

The peer is currently chairman of Scottish Widows, a subsidiary of Lloyds. The bank declined to comment on the reports.

An announcement was said to be expected shortly, pending regulatory approval, after the Lloyds board voted in favour of the appointment. The group is 33 per cent owned by the taxpayer.

Cambridge-educated Norman Blackwell served as a Downing Street adviser under Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s and headed the Number Ten policy unit in the Major government from 1995 to 1997. He was appointed a life peer in 1997.

A former McKinsey partner, he has also held senior positions with Standard Life and retailer Dixons and is a member of the board of right-wing think-tank, the Centre for Policy Studies. He has served on the Lloyds board since June last year.

Sir Win was appointed chairman of the bank in September 2009, a year after it had to be bailed out with £20bn of taxpayers’ money. He announced in May that he was to retire.

He has overseen the restructuring of the bank in conjunction with chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio, the former UK boss of Santander who took over at Lloyds in 2011.

Meanwhile, Juan Colombas, another former Santander executive, who joined Lloyds as chief risk officer in 2011, has been appointed as an executive director with immediate effect.

The changes come as the bank prepares for the return of the remainder of its state-owned stake to the private sector, having disposed of a six per cent chunk for £3.2bn in September.