By Marcus Leach

Credit ratings agency Moody's have confirmed that they are considering downgrading Lloyds' rating following the illness of chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio.

It was announced last week that Mr Horta-Osario would be going on sick leave, due to stress-related illness, with Finance Director Tim Tookey assuming his role on an interim basis.

"The review has been prompted by the significant upheaval within Lloyds' senior management," Moody's said.

"Moody's is concerned that the group may face a major challenge in ensuring continuity of leadership, given that the CEO has only been in place since March 2011; and there have been several high-level management changes since his arrival, including the announcement that the current CFO will leave in February 2012.

"The situation is exacerbated by the fact that it comes at a time of turbulent conditions in the financial markets and the necessity for Lloyds to execute important tasks, including the EU-mandated sale of branches and the ongoing wind-down of non-core assets."

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