Tim Tookey: 'Two days with no sleep, but the endurance test was worth it'

A Day in the Life: Lloyds TSB's acting finance director describes the day it became Britain's top bank
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The Independent Online

Thursday 18 September

With HBOS's shares plummeting Lloyds TSB got the nod from the Prime Minister on Monday night that a rescue takeover of Britain's biggest mortgage lender would be driven past competition rules. Tim Tookey, 46, who has been Lloyd's acting finance director since April, hardly slept for the following two days as the banks rushed to agree the deal. But he says the endurance test was more than worth it to turn Lloyds into Britain's dominant retail bank.


A meeting at Linklaters, Lloyds' lawyers, which was the "base camp" for both banks. The £12.2bn deal had been agreed and a team of 20 were going through the documentation before the announcement that morning, with many working right through the night. "I had seen enough biscuits and fizzy drinks to last a lifetime," Mr Tookey groans.


Mr Tookey leaves for a budget hotel near Trafalgar Square only to find that his room has been let. He heads for Lloyds' City offices in Gresham Street, finding a small sofa in a colleague's office, and gets to sleep at 4:45.


"My body clock was still working because 10 to six is the time I normally get up," he says. An executive assistant to a colleague makes him some tea and toast and Mr Tookey goes for a shower.


He is "back in the land of the normal" and checks on the question and answer sheet for staff communications about the deal. "There are 70,000 staff in the bank and it was important that we had the right messages for them when the deal was announced."


The stock exchange announcement of the deal goes out. Mr Tookey and others, including HBOS Chief Executive, Andy Hornby, gather in the office of Eric Daniels, Lloyds' chief executive, and eat sandwiches before doing a conference call for journalists at 7:20am. By the time the call ends, "TV cameras, lights and all sorts" were going up outside the building.


Mr Tookey meets his executive team and clears his diary. He is disappointed to be missing a lunch he should be hosting for 18 graduate recruits at the bank. He then has a conference call about the deal with his direct reports in tax, legal and other divisions and the finance directors of Lloyds' various businesses. Lloyds had been out of favour in the City for years before the credit crunch and the staff felt that the bank was now reaping the rewards of its cautious strategy. "What was amazing was the energy of people," he says. "They wanted to know how they could help and get involved." He then reads the first broker reports passing judgement on the deal.


Being grilled by analysts is one of his favourite parts of the job, says Mr Tookey. The packed meeting takes place at the offices of Lloyds' house broker, Dresdner Kleinwort. Mr Tookey, Mr Daniels and Mr Hornby field most of the questions from the stage along with the bank's chairman, Sir Victor Blank. In general, the mood is positive for Lloyds. Mr Tookey takes the chance to congratulate Sandy Chen of Panmure Gordon on his note upgrading Lloyds to "buy".

12:00pm (Midday)

The press conference starts, also at Dresdner's offices. "By this time I was starting to feel pretty jaded but I soon woke up when Eric referred a question to me saying I was one of the pre-eminent experts in the City on fair value accounting. That was a pretty worrying moment."


Mr Tookey buys lunch from his usual sandwich shop and heads to Lloyds' building to go through some audit committee papers.


With Mr Daniels giving an interview to the BBC, Mr Tookey and Truett Tate, the head of Lloyds' corporate bank, stand in for the chief executive at a scheduled meeting with one of the company's big shareholders. Did he like the deal? "I haven't seen what he's written yet," Mr Tookey says.


Mr Tookey and Lloyds' head of investor relations, Michael Oliver, dash to the Canary Wharf offices of Citigroup to make a presentation to the bank's sales force. "There were about 40 of them and with virtually no sleep I had to ... give a 20-minute speech with no script or slides and just talk from the heart about the deal."


The next day is Lloyds' monthly board meeting and Mr Tookey should really be going to a pre-board dinner. But his 16-year-old daughter, Heather, is due to receive three prizes at school for her GCSE results and he is determined to make the event. "There aren't many times when one of your kids win prizes. Eric said I should go so I was grateful to him for that." He manages to stay awake throughout the presentations.


Mr Tookey gets home to his house in Beckenham, Kent, and checks some emails on his Blackberry while waiting to watch coverage of the deal on the news. "We had had huge media coverage but I hadn't seen any of it. It had been an amazing 24 hours and I had worked for 23 of them so by this time I was absolutely exhausted but I didn't feel very tired."


Mr Tookey goes to bed but "after what felt like five minutes the alarm went and it was 10 to six.

So, does he think his contribution to the deal will get him the finance director's job permanently? "I hope so, but to be frank I never think about the word 'acting' because there is so much to do in the job. I love it."

Out of the Office

Apparently there is nothing better to get a sleep-deprived finance director going in the morning than a bit of Robbie Williams.

"I normally come in by train and walk from London Bridge and today I had Robbie Williams Live at Knebworth on my iPod. It took two minutes off my walk. I have it at a horrific volume and I get completely lost in it."

The last book he read was a Frederick Forsyth novel. "Don't ask me what it was called but it was a damn good thriller."

Mr Tookey's main enthusiasm outside work is boats. He owns a Hobie Cat two-man catamaran and a wakeboard.

"I'm glad the deal wasn't last week because I took a few guys water skiing near Cambridge. I was planning to go sailing this weekend but I have got the in-laws coming for lunch," sounding reasonably happy about the change of plan.

Mr Tookey's wife, Christine, and their children Heather, 16, and Jonathan, 18, are all Crystal Palace season ticket holders. He relaxes by gardening, walking the dog and barbecuing for friends.