Belfast Telegraph

Co-op boss quit over Lloyds deal

THE former boss of struggling lender the Co-operative Bank said he quit because superiors ignored his fears that a massive deal to buy more than 600 branches from Lloyds would be a disaster.

Neville Richardson told MPs he repeatedly warned Co-operative Group bosses it was taking on far too much and the bank could collapse – before quitting over the issue in July 2011.

And Mr Richardson insisted loans acquired with the Britannia Building Society– which he ran before it was acquired by the Co-op in 2009 – are not solely to blame for the bank's woes.

He said former bosses including Peter Marks, group chief executive until May, were determined to do the Lloyds deal, which fell through last April.

And he said the self-styled ethical lender could well have been another Northern Rock if the deal had gone ahead.

The Co-op Bank last week reported half-year losses of £709m on surging bad debts and a bungled roll-out of a new IT system.

It is being forced to plug a £1.5bn black hole in its balance sheet at the expense of bondholders, with job losses expected.

Mr Richardson was boss of Britannia from 2002 to 2009, then chief executive of Co-operative Financial Services until he quit.

Belfast Telegraph