The unexpected departure of Scottish Widows deputy chief executive Charles Thomson has stirred speculation that parent com pany Lloyds TSB is lining up someone for the job.
There is now no heir apparent to chief executive Mike Ross after losing two deputies within months.
His other deputy Bill Main moved to Scottish Widows Investment Partnership as chief executive in August.
Industry insiders think Thomson may have been a victim of clashes with Lloyds TSB board and suspect Lloyds wants to appoint its own successor to Ross.
Thomson, 52, joined Scottish Widows in 1995 as appoin ted actuary and joined the main board in 1997. Widows says Thomson will not be replaced.
Lloyds TSB is embroiled in a takeover battle for Abbey National and it is believed the latest move could be clearing the decks before the acquisition which could see Scottish Mutual join the Lloyds stable.
In another move, Widows managing director (operations) Ian Thompson has become managing director at Abbey Life. The Lloyds-owned life office is closed to new business and its current MD, Chris Evans, retired at 51 this week.
Widows chief executive Mike Ross says: “Charles Thomson has decided to leave Scottish Widows. His responsibilities have been reassigned among other members of the Scottish Widows executive board and other senior managers.”
Wentworth Rose managing director Philip Rose says: “I would have thought that a Lloyds person will be stepping in. It has vast expansion plans, so Scottish Widows will have to come into line and be part of Lloyds.
“My assumption is that Lloyds is bringing its earlier acquisitions into its main body. It needs to operate as one unit before it attempts to swallow Abbey.”