Lloyds Banking Group Plc is looking into how it can ease its chief executive's workload as it seeks to convince investors he will be able to make a successful return after taking medical leave, the Financial Times reported on Monday.
The bank shocked investors earlier this month when it said 47-year-old Antonio Horta-Osorio was taking a break due to stress-related illness, leaving a potential power vacuum at the top of Britain's biggest retail bank.
Lloyds, 40 percent owned by Britain after being bailed out during the 2008 credit crisis, is mulling whether to strengthen the circle of support around Horta-Osorio in a bid to reduce the pressures associated with the top job, the FT reported, citing people familiar with the bank's thinking.
The appointment of a chief operating officer to act as an effective deputy or giving a small group of other senior executives increased responsibility could be options, the newspaper said.
Antonio Lorenzo, who led Lloyds' strategic review, could become deputy to Horta-Osorio, the FT said, citing people close to the bank.
The newspaper said Mark Fisher, who headed up the integration of HBOS, could also be chosen for a higher profile role, while David Roberts, a nonexecutive director who will temporarily replace Horta-Osorio if his leave is extended, could also be given a more hands-on position.
Any preparations to alter the role of chief executive at Lloyds are at an early stage given the lack of clarity surrounding when or if Horta-Osorio will return, according to the article, which also said the board, led by Lloyds chairman Sir Win Bischoff, was expected to negotiate with him when he returned.
Lloyds has not specified a timeframe for Horta-Osorio's return from a short leave of absence, but has said previously it expects him to be back at work before Christmas. Chairman Win Bischoff said last week Horta-Osorio was making good progress in his recovery.
Horta-Osorio took over as chief executive eight months ago after joining the group from Spanish-owned rival Santander UK at the end of last year.
His plan to cut 15,000 jobs is part of a restructuring that will halve Lloyds' international presence and sell off some 630 retail bank branches.
Asked about the report, Lloyds repeated it expected Horta-Osorio back by the end of the year.
(Reporting by Michelle Martin; editing by Andre Grenon)