Bradford & Bingley set to name Pym as new chief

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The Independent Online

Bradford & Bingley is poised to reveal that it has appointed Richard Pym, the former boss of rival Alliance & Leicester, as chief executive.

The struggling bank could announce his appointment as early as today, but a Bradford & Bingley spokeswoman declined to comment on the speculation yesterday.

B&B has been searching for a new boss since June, when Steven Crawshaw quit as chief executive due to ill health. The chairman, Rod Kent, has held the helm as acting chief executive during a turbulent time, which has involved a bungled rights issue that was finally implemented last week.

The appointment of Mr Pym is likely to go down well with the City, as he is regarded as a respected City veteran who spent 15 years at A&L before stepping down last summer. He was also lined up to be the chief executive of ailing Northern Rock, as part of JC Flowers's failed attempt to buy the troubled lender.

Some City analysts have speculated that B&B, which is heavily exposed to the buy-to-let market, could take the route of A&L and agree to a takeover, although there is no indication that this will happen and it is unclear who may be interested in bidding.

A&L, which was also heavily exposed to the troubled mortgage market, agreed to be acquired by the Spanish bank Banco Santander last month.

Mr Pym faces a stiff test to turn around the fortunes of B&B, which has been beset by troubles since the spring. In May, it unveiled a rights issue, but this had to be restructured twice, first when it issued a profits warning and then when the US private equity house TPG withdrew its offer to inject fresh capital in exchange for a stake in the bank.

Last week, it is understood that institutions had only taken up an estimated 20 per cent of the rights issues' available stock. The rights issue was intended to raise £400m. As a result, much of the remaining slack will be taken up by UBS and Citigroup, the underwriters, as well as six other banks and four leading shareholders who signed up as sub-underwriters: Standard Life, Legal & General, M&G and Insight.

Bradford & Bingley's shares closed at 55.25p on Friday, marginally above the 55p issue price.