The business on...Gary Hoffman, Chief executive, Northern Rock

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The Independent Online

Was the fuss about his £500,000 really fair then?

It's true that Mr Hoffman was going to be paid £500,000 in salary, pension and benefits for doing, well, nothing, and that £500,000 came from the taxpayer because Northern Rock is state-owned.

But he was only doing nothing because that's what Northern Rock demanded when he accepted a job as boss of new banking venture NBNK. Even though NBNK said it wouldn't bid for Rock in any future privatisation.

But he's waived the cash. A banker with a conscience?

At Barclays, after being shifted from his role as head of Barclaycard, he did head up the bank's "corporate & social responsibility" function. And Mr Hoffman is, shall we say, not entirely insensitive. But it also means he can start at NBNK with a clean slate. Given that NBNK was set up by people who've made much of how they are different from the banks that caused the financial crisis, that's not a bad idea.

What about the next six months, more time at the football?

Well, he is vice-chairman of Coventry City and a lifelong fan of the Sky Blues. They're riding high in the Championship at the moment, standing in fourth place. With six months on his hands he might even get to oversee a return to the Premiership. But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet. It's still early days.

What's he like?

He can be rather abrasive but people who've worked with him speak well of him, describing him as a man with a surprisingly good sense of humour who's fond of cracking jokes. He's got a young family who will be able to see a bit of him before the really hard work begins.

And what would that be?

NBNK will be a bidder for the 600 or so branches that the Lloyds Banking Group has to sell as a consequence of the state aid that it has received. NBNK has raised a pile of cash for Mr Hoffman to go to war with, but it faces a fight with several others, possibly including Virgin and various private equity players.

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