Lord Myners appointed to Co-operative Group board

Co-op drafts in City big gun Lord Myners ahead of governance review

Lord Myners has been appointed to the board of the Co-operative Group.

Myners, a former Treasury minister and ex-chairman of Marks & Spencer, will chair a review of the 160-year-old group’s governance and democracy.

He will be the first outsider to sit on the board, which is made up of 19 representatives from the co-operative movement.

His appointment follows the near-collapse of the Co-op Bank and its subsequent bail-in, which will see it 90 per cent owned by its bondholders.

It also follows the resignation of Co-op Group chairman Len Wardle and the arrest of former bank chairman Paul Flowers over drug allegations.

“I’m drawn to situations like this and I’m absolutely confident we can sort this out,” Myners said. “The underlying business, the customer proposition is absolutely tremendous. I’m doing it because the Co-op matters. It matters to me and it matters to its nine million members.”

He added: “Right now it faces serious challenges in terms of business performance and ensuring that the right governance is in place to deliver in the interests of all its members and customers.”

His appointment comes a day after two big UK banks, Lloyds and RBS, were fined a total of £60 million for mis-selling and sanctions busting. Co-op Bank was fined this year for PPI mis-selling.

Myners, pictured, who will be paid just £1 a year, said he considered that the bank’s problems, including a  £1.5 billion hole in its balance sheet, had been sorted out. “You can put a tick against that,” he said.

Chancellor George Osborne has ordered an independent inquiry into the bank and it faces probable probes by the two financial regulators. Separately the Co-op has commissioned an independent “forensic” review, headed by Sir Christopher Kelly, into what went on at the bank.

That is expected to report around the same time as Myners’ governance review in time for next May’s annual meeting. Euan Sutherland, the new chief executive of Co-op Group, said Myners’ leadership of the governance review would be “crucial.”

He said: “What our customers, colleagues and wider membership base needs is an organisation and a business that they can be proud of again and I believe that Paul [Myners] has a key role to play in helping us deliver that.”

Sutherland is due to present his own review of the Co-op’s sprawling businesses early next year.

Myners said: “Together we will make sure that the Co-operative Group can realise its significant potential and properly capitalise on the huge opportunities ahead.”

He said the advantage of the mutually owned group is that it had no “avaricious shareholders with an open mouth needing to be stuffed full of money”.

Myners has also been chairman of Land Securities and Guardian Media Group and has written several reports, including one on corporate governance, for the Treasury.

Co-op said it is looking to appoint another two non-executive directors. Co-op bondholders today voted 99.98% in favour of the bail-in plan.