The Business Week In Review: Antonio Horta-Osario to return and the FSA report on RBS

 

In profit...

Antonio Horta-Osario, the stressed-out chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, confirmed that he would be back at work in the new year.

Hugely well-regarded, particularly over his handling of the payment protection insurance fiasco a matter of weeks after taking the reins in March, investors were stunned when Horta-Osario took a leave of absence over health concerns last month. Few thought he could return because shareholders would worry that he could end up back in the Priory, where he spent some time during his absence.

But the 47-year-old Portuguese has opted for a more delegated structure that should help him avoid fatigue and he has impressed with his frankness over his problems.

Canadian bank Cannaccord scored a bit of a coup with the £253m acquisition of mid-cap UK stockbroker Collins Stewart Hawkpoint. The move shocked most Collins Stewart staff, who described the move as a "bolt from the blue".

There was finally some good news for BP boss Bob Dudley, after Cameron International agreed to pay the oil giant $250m over its role in the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster. Cameron made the blow-out preventer that proved ineffective on the rig.

...at a loss

Royal Bank of Scotland's decision-making was "defective" when former chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin pushed through the disastrous £45.5bn takeover of ABN Amro in 2007. A Financial Services Authority report reached this view on Monday, though critics felt it could have been even harsher on RBS's old management team.

Thomas Cook's stand-in chief executive, Sam Weihagen, was forced into the rather horrible decision of shutting 200 of the travel agency's shops, 125 more than previously announced. Around 660 staff are likely to go. The group has been in desperate trouble, having admitted to a £398m loss in the year to September. The share price collapsed and the group had to secure £200m in fresh funding last month to ensure it had a future.

The bad news coming out of Japanese camera maker Olympus never seems to end. Last week, it admitted to a £420m hole in its balance sheet after 13 years of fraud at the company. Despite bringing the practices of Olympus to the world's attention, sacked boss Michael Woodford is facing difficulties in his campaign to be reinstated. Some Japanese institutional shareholders are concerned that the Briton would not win back the trust of the employees.

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