Ex-HSBC executive Niall Booker parachuted in to sort out Co-op


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The Independent Online

The veteran HSBC banker Niall Booker has been made chief executive of the struggling lender The Co-operative Bank.

Mr Booker will replace Barry Tootell, who resigned earlier this month after the Co-op Bank's debt was downgraded to junk status by the credit agency Moody's amid speculation about the lender's capital hole. The Independent on Sunday revealed at the weekend that Steve Humes, the Co-op bank's group finance chief, has also left the Manchester-based bank.

Mr Booker spent 30 years at HSBC, serving in its retail and corporate banking departments. His most recent job was as chief executive officer of HSBC North America. He will take up his new position on 10 June.

In a statement yesterday Mr Booker said he would be focused on strengthening the Co-op Bank's balance sheet.

Euan Sutherland, chief executive of the wider Co-operative Group, which has interest spanning supermarkets to funeral parlours, said that Mr Booker brought "strategic and operational skills" at an "important time" in the bank's history.

Last week the Co-op announced it was freezing all new business lending. And, in April, the lender pulled out of a deal to buy 632 branches of Lloyds. The plan, known as Project Verde, had been strongly backed by the Treasury as a way of enhancing competition in the high-street banking sector.

In March the Co-op Bank announced annual losses for 2012 of £674m. These stemmed from £150m to cover mis-sold payment protection insurance and £377m in bad property loans made by Britannia Building Society, which the Co-op acquired during the 2008/2009 credit crisis.