The Business On: John Nelson, Chairman-designate, Lloyd's of London

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The Independent Online

The face looks like a familiar one on the non-executive circuit.

Yep, Mr Nelson knows a thing or two about UK boardrooms, as he retires as deputy chairman of Kingfisher, the owner of the DIY retailer B&Q, later this year and is the chairman of Hammerson, the retail and office property company.



Where else has he been?

He has also been a non-executive at BT, Woolwich, JP Morgan Cazenove – and Cazenove before the merger.



He's a banker by trade, then?

Spot on. After qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1970, Mr Nelson, 63, started at Kleinwort Benson in 1971 and spent 15 years at the investment bank before jumping ship to Lazard in 1986, where he eventually became vice-chairman. He then became chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston in Europe in 1999, but retired in 2002 to rack up the non-executive roles.



So there's still life in the old dog.

Most certainly, because yesterday he was named the chairman designate of Lloyd's of London, the world's largest insurance market.



That sounds like quite a big job.

And big boots to fill, as Mr Nelson takes over from Lord Levene of Portsoken, who is Lloyd's longest-serving chairman for 125 years, after nine years in the role.



Didn't profits tumble last year?

Well, yes. Lloyd's profits fell by 43 per cent to £2.2bn in 2010, but it was hit by a higher-than-average number of natural catastrophes.



And more recently Japan?

Indeed. Mr Nelson said recent events in Japan, New Zealand and Australia show the "vital role" that Lloyd's and others play in helping communities and businesses rebuild after disaster.



Hopefully he has a few hobbies to enjoy his free time away from such tragic events.

The father of three enjoys sailing and opera and has been on the board of the English National Opera. Mr Nelson is also a trustee of the National Gallery.



A culture vulture, then?

Yes, but Lloyd's has hired him for his financial and boardroom experience and not for his love of art or singing.

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