Legal Business Blogs

Still in the headlines – Embattled Co-op appoints new GC for bank amid group shake-up

The Co-operative Bank (Co-op) has announced the appointment of former interim general counsel (GC) of Coventry Building Society Brona McKeown as legal chief and company secretary shortly after current GC Alistair Asher moves to head the legal function across the Co-operative Group.

Prior to Coventry Building Society, McKeown held a variety of roles at Barclays, culminating in global GC of Barclays Corporate. McKeown, who trained as a lawyer at CMS Cameron McKenna, joins the Manchester-based bank on 2 December.

In a statement, the bank said: ‘Reporting to Niall Booker, chief executive of The Co-operative Bank, Brona will oversee the bank’s legal and governance functions and act as the key link for those functions across the bank’s stakeholders, including the bank’s executive and board. She will also be a member of the bank’s executive committee. She will also lead and develop the bank’s own legal department and will work with Alistair Asher, The Co-operative Group general counsel, in respect of legal support services.’

McKeown’s move comes amid sustained controversy at the group after chairman of the bank Paul Flowers resigned and was later arrested facing a number a number of allegations, resulting in group chairman Len Wardle also stepping down from his position.

Earlier this month high-profile ABS Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) has also confirmed that it is to make around 60 redundancies in its 140-strong personal injury division as part of a restructuring, with a formal consultation beginning in the New Year.

In September, CLS posted a £3.4m loss for the first half of 2013. The loss comes despite turnover in the Co-op’s legal arm growing by 5.8% on last year to £18.1m.

Also earlier this month, Clifford Chance (CC) was handed a role advising the ailing Co-operative Bank on its recapitalisation as the bank prepares to float next year. The Co-op has been in negotiations since it emerged in June that its bank had a £1.5bn capital deficit due to non-performing loans. Asher joined the Co-op this summer from Allen & Overy, which is advising on its restructuring.