Large Will Mind the Gap

Article excerpt


JUST as the opposition parties were working themselves up into a lather over the Bank of England deputy governor vacancy, Gordon Brown slips back into town and hands the job to Sir Andrew Large.

Among the reasons for the delay in finding a replacement for David Clementi was Brown's care in talking it over with governor Sir Eddie George at the Treasury before signing off on the appointment.

Some of the City's bigger egos might worry about being a number two, or more correctly a joint number two.

Not Large. Having held down the deputy chairman's job at Barclays through five turbulent years, when his hopes of stepping up to the top job were quietly snaffled by chairman Sir Peter Middleton, he may seem to be settling for second best again.

But it is not quite like that, since the post that Large fills is effectively that of the Bank's chief operating officer, with authority over all aspects of its work, from budgets to banknote printing.

Certainly, no one can dispute Large's qualifications for a job which will put him in charge of the Bank's financial stability arm and give him a vote on the Monetary Policy Committee.

In many ways, Large was instrumental in setting in motion the events which resulted in the creation of the super City regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), soon after Labour came to office.

As boss of the Securities and Investments Board (the FSA predecessor) Large was responsible for creating the biggest regulatory exercise in British history - the [pound]9bn compensation scheme for the mis-selling of pensions.

His frustration over the SIB's lack of powers to deal with market abuse paved the way for a stronger, legislative regime several years later.

Although a seemingly permanent number two, Large could not be accused of being unwilling to assert himself.

He was a prime mover against former Barclays chief executive Martin Taylor when he made such a hash of running and then selling BZW.

Indeed, Large's overzealous involvement led to him stepping down from his executive role.

All this is so much history. Large will now have the task of raising the profile of the bank's financial stability wing. Given the current uncertainty in financial markets, and the bursting of stock market and property bubbles, there should be no shortage of tasks. …