As the UK government boasts about a potential new financial services agreement with Switzerland, former Swiss bankers are already consolidating their grip on British boardrooms. At Lloyds Banking Group, it seems that grip will be steely. Robin Budenberg, the ex-UBS dealmaker who will become the UK bank’s chairman early next year, is known to certain old colleagues as “The Terminator”, Arnie’s cyborg assassin. To paraphrase one of them, he’s “flesh on the outside but made of steel inside”. Apparently, his ruthlessness was first noted when he ended the tenures of both Stephen Hester as Royal Bank of Scotland boss and Eric Daniels as Lloyds chief, while he was managing the bailed-out banks for the UK government. So candidates for the job of Lloyds CEO after António Horta-Osório departs in 2021 may not enjoy being fixed by his laser-like gaze — especially not Hester, who has been deemed a contender alongside insider Vim Maru and Whitbread’s Alison Brittain. Horta-Osório, meanwhile, may hope that combativeness is not hard-wired into UBS alumni. If City gossip is to be believed, and he hopes one day to succeed Ana Botin at Santander, he would have to deal with Budenberg’s former Swiss bank colleague William Vereker, who is tipped to become chair of Santander UK.
Vereker is set to take the place of Shriti Vadera after becoming her neighbour — suggesting he has the tracking and imitation capabilities of the upgraded T-1000 Terminator model. Or, as it said on the movie posters: “Same Make. Same Model. New Mission.”
Aviva Stadium Cardiff?
Since her appointment as Aviva’s new chief this week, Amanda Blanc has been clearing her diary. After leaving Zurich Insurance last year, Blanc — a former chair of the Association of British Insurers — had spent six months or so collecting an impressive roster of jobs. These included a seat on the board at Aviva and positions at three insurance start-ups — Trov, Laka and RightIndem. But, faced with the time-consuming task of taking over from Maurice Tulloch, she has made an immediate cull of the other positions. So out have gone Trov, Laka and RightIndem. But there was one non-exec role she couldn’t bear to part with: chair of the Welsh Professional Rugby Board. “There’s a passion for rugby and a passion for Wales, but also a passion for community,” she says. “Welsh rugby plays an important part as a community right the way through Wales . . . it’s very inclusive and it complements well the voluntary contribution I can make.” How long before Aviva’s rugby ground sponsorship moves from Dublin to Cardiff?
Pop business culture
While City University’s Cass Business School hurries to change its name — its 18th-century benefactor Sir John Cass had links with the slave trade — a rival has been extolling its very 21st-century name and business model. PopUp Business School offers free courses in entrepreneurship, backed by rather more acceptable sponsors such as Westminster City Council and Google. But can a free business course be as valuable as an MBA from City, one of the world’s top 50 providers? Judging by an account of how PopUp has kept going during lockdown, yes it can. Founder Simon Paine speaks of “an online pivot”, “reach”, “mission”, “engagement”, “breakout sessions” and “networking” So every MBA buzzword you’ll ever need, without the enormous bill.
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