Ex-Lloyds boss Blank made UK business ambassador

Image caption,
Sir Victor faced criticism for Lloyds' decision to buy HBOS.

Former Lloyds chairman Sir Victor Blank - who oversaw the bank's troubled merger with HBOS - is to be made a UK business ambassador.

Sir Victor is among 32 people due to be appointed, including Jimmy Choo co-founder Tamara Mellon and former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten.

Business ambassadors are unpaid - and use their contacts and experience to promote the UK in overseas markets.

Prime Minister David Cameron will confirm the roles in a visit to China.

Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Vince Cable are already in the country as part of a high-profile UK government and trade mission designed to ramp up business with China.

They are also joined by about 50 business people.

Mr Cameron's coalition government has made broadening global trade links a priority, with particular emphasis on the fast-growing developing markets typified by China and India, both of whose economies are growing strongly.

Currently, exports to China, although growing fast, are relatively small compared with other markets. For example, the UK exports twice as much to the Irish Republic than to China.

Sir Victor announced he would step down in May 2009 and left the Lloyds board in June this year.

He and Lloyds' chief executive, Eric Daniels, faced criticism for their decision last year to buy HBOS, the troubled owner of Halifax - which resulted in Lloyds needing a government bail-out. The UK Treasury now owns 43% of Lloyds.

Image caption,
The Jimmy Choo co-founder Tamara Mellon is one of six women on the list

Sir Victor is not the only figure from the world of UK banking on the list of ambassadors which also includes Barclays group chairman Marcus Agius.

Others to be named include the head of the business group, the CBI, Richard Lambert, chairman of JCB Sir Anthony Bamford and fashion designer Anya Hindmarch.

Mr Cameron is expected to say that international trade is to be put at the heart of foreign policy and that the ambassadors' "knowledge, skill and dedication to British business" would "play a key role in opening markets, increasing trade and encouraging investment".

The role of a business ambassador includes holding meetings at the request of the government, briefing UK ministers and ambassadors on key business priorities and contributing to government discussions with leaders in key markets including Brazil, Russia, Vietnam and eastern Europe, as well as China and India.

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