Business Diary: Lloyds shows its dark-horse skills

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The Independent Online

Given the leaky nature of banks – HSBC's recent succession travails were a prime example – Lloyds Banking Group deserves congratulations for keeping under wraps the hiring of Antonio Horta-Osorio as its new chief executive until it felt ready to announce it. One of The Independent's rivals was even claiming yesterday that the bank had yet to appoint headhunters. Officially, the line from Lloyds on Tuesday, as it unveiled its third-quarter numbers, was that the search was "progressing". If only banks always made such speedy progress.

LSE misses out on its star speaker

Lloyds' gain is the London School of Economics' loss. It has for several weeks been promoting a lecture on the "Future of UK Banking", which was due to take place last night. Sadly, the event had to be cancelled because of "unforeseen circumstances". These were presumably related to the identity of the lecturer – none other than Antonio Horta-Osorio. With his own future in UK banking just having changed so dramatically, he clearly felt obliged to keep his own counsel.

Hornby still in hiding at Boots

Andy Hornby, the chief executive of Alliance Boots, was conspicuous by his absence on media calls for the health-and-beauty group's half-year results yesterday. It chose instead to field its finance director, George Fairweather, who did say of his boss: "He is around if people want to chat to him." Mr Hornby's reluctance to do media appearances may not be entirely unconnected to the fact that no story about him ever fails to describe him as the "disgraced former boss of the banking group HBOS". And perhaps he didn't want to upstage the new man at the top of his old employer.

Soros targets the female market

News reaches us (courtesy of The Wall Street Journal) of another ground-breaking investment from George Soros, the hedge-fund guru who is still best-known in this country as the man whose bets on sterling forced us out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism 18 years ago. Mr Soros's fund has bought just over 5 per cent of The Female Health Company, which makes female condoms. What does he know that the rest of us don't?