Sir Howard Davies is reportedly set to be the next chairman of RBS – a poisoned chalice if there ever was one. But then again MT’s diarist is no stranger to controversy.
Davies’ CV reads like a what’s-what of public and private figurehead roles, complete with the obligatory hiccup. The former Financial Services Authority and CBI chairman resigned as director of the London School of Economics in 2011 as soon as it came out that the university had got rather too cosy with the former Gaddafi regime in Libya.
And he is currently chair of the Airports Commission, with the unenviable task of deciding which of Heathrow and Gatwick gets to concrete over Britain’s green and pleasant land with a new runway.
Next on his list of top brass roles, according to the FT, is the chairmanship of RBS, although nothing has been confirmed so it could still fall through. The bank, which is currently 81%-owned by the taxpayer and with not a whiff of when it will return to private ownership or start paying dividends (unlike Lloyds, which the Government offloaded another £500m stake in this morning), has already been fined for everything from rigging Libor and the fx markets to IT failures. But it wouldn’t exactly be surprising if there are still skeletons lurking.
Davies, a former McKinseyite, does have some banking experience. He’s currently an independent director of Morgan Stanley, as well being a non-executive director of Prudential and chairing insurance group Phoenix. And with so many years of public-private experience under his belt, he's an ideal candidate - especially if it stays in public ownership for the forseeable future, which looks increasingly likely.
He couldn't be reached right now (he is often up in the clouds for his current job after all), so in the meantime you can read his latest diary on the family affair that is US presidential politics.