Lloyds Banking Group chairman Sir Win Bischoff could lose his job if chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio has a recurrence of the medical problem that forced him to take two months off. But the British taxpayer, already down by billions, stands to lose more if he is proved wrong.
The City veteran said Mr Horta-Osorio fought hard to keep his job: "If there'd been any doubt, we wouldn't have come to this decision." Sir Win also said he had been "tough" making sure Mr Horta-Osorio "can stand the heat".
It's usually not the done thing to discuss someone's medical health but given the importance to Great Britain plc of Lloyds, it is relevant. This is, after all, Britain's biggest retail bank, which has received billions of pounds of taxpayers' cash.
Mr Horta-Osorio has suffered from a physical ailment which makes it hard to sleep. Sir Win said it was not stress related. The number of people reporting to him will now be cut and other executives will take on more. However, this will not lead to pay rises.
Sir Win knows his onions says he has the agreement of major shareholders. But he is basically saying "trust me" and Mr Horta-Osorio is worth it. We'd better hope so.
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