The Lloyds TSB boss looked like the cat that got the cream and his HBOS counterpart looked as sick as a parrot. Yes the ego has well and truly landed.
And you have to feel sorry for HBOS. OK, it was the architect of its own downfall and its funding issues are now plain for everyone to see. But this has been a case of death by hysteria. In another time HBOS would surely have survived.
They also say that it’s better to be born lucky than rich. Tell this to Daniels and his enigmatic smile will probably become positively Cheshire cat-like. It appears that for US bankers, you can actually be both. is. Often considered an ailing bank and ripe for takeover, Lloyds TSB has landed on its feet so firmly that had it been a market trader, pundits would surely be submitting it to the insider dealing microscope.
Rarely can the fortunes of a financial services firm have taken so dramatic an upturn and all through the fickle hand of fate.
Will Daniels now depose the legendary Sir Brian Pitman as the doyen of the bank formerly known as Lloyds?
Presiding over the HBOS acquisition will make it a close thing as far as value creation is concerned. The Lloyds TSB boss must feel that it’s his birthday and Christmas rolled into one.
But the backslapping is about to stop because, as well as the opportunity, Lloyds TSB now has to determine how it will cope with the residual headache from the night before – where to apply the scalpel and how much of the patient to save. Despite its early protestations, it doesn’t need its new proliferation of brands.
And having emasculated Cheltenham & Gloucester over the last decade and switched much of its mortgage lending under the Lloyds TSB banner, the logical move must surely be to retain the Halifax presence in the high street.
The sop to Scotland is trickier because of the so-called political implications, although heaven knows this is a one-way street if ever there was one.
But in fairness, Lloyds TSB does have a presence north of the border. So the palliative of referring to HBOS’ Edinburgh presence as a ‘head office’ will make the medicine easier to swallow.
Of course the writing is on the wall for branch offices. The only issue here is presumably one of timing. Maybe overseeing the restructuring is a role that Hornby should be given.
Even if his banking credentials have been called into question, no-one should doubt his retail expertise.
And how do the staff and consumers fare in all this? Not well, but that’s for another day.