“Bottom line” set to save Portuguese ‘love rat’ banker

After all the hullabaloo in the British press this week, António Horta Osório – the Portuguese CEO of Lloyds of London – looks like he will weather the embarrassment of being caught-out on a business trip with a pretty young woman.

Despite calls for his resignation – on the basis that he has presented himself as a whiter-than-white family man, and even imposed a code of responsibility on his employees, exhorting them always to do “the right thing” – Observador writes that today “the British press seems to have dropped the case.

“Not even the Sun continues to highlight the story on its internet page” while other papers like the Telegraph and Guardian “do not carry any kind of updates, beyond the defence given by the bank” (click here).

Here, Correio da Manhã – the country’s only tabloid that could pass for scurrilous – says Horta Osório was on holiday with his wife and three children in the Alentejo when the “scandal of his betrayal” broke, but that it looks very much like his marriage of the last 28 years will continue.

More to the point, Observador suggests that the fact that Lloyds Banking Group shares have increased 150% in value since Horta Osório took over in the driving seat are indication enough that, “in spite of the controversy, the Portuguese banker appears to be secure in his executive presidency of bank”.

Quoting the City’s “well-read” City AM paper, Observador says that the feeling in circles where money talks is that AHO (as he is known) should be “cut some slack” as his tryst “does not make him worse at his job”.

Writer Emma Haslett claims that the Sun’s “angry finger-pointing” – supplied by veteran City analyst David Buik “who blustered: “When you’re in the public headlights, at the very top of a bank that has cost the taxpayer billions of pounds, your behaviour has to be completely and utterly exemplary” – did not get much support.

Investors particularly were “remarkably unfazed”, she explained, adding that shares closed 0.8% higher yesterday, and when all is said and done, what’s most important when you are in banking is the bottom line.

“Yes, chief executives should consider themselves accountable – but the main point of that accountability should be their bottom line,” her article concludes.

Thus the source of sexy spice that rarely touches banking circles, particularly in Portugal, looks like it may well be drying up very much like the Alentejo’s boreholes.

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