Ailing bank calls in City comms veteran

Britain's biggest lender of buy-to-let mortgages, the ailing Bradford & Bingley (B&B), has turned to one of the City's top PR troubleshooters to bolster its falling share price.

McGarahan: to help B&B
McGarahan: to help B&B

Tony McGarahan, once of AXA, Equitable Life and Taylor Woodrow, will head comms across the business, which has seen shares dip 90 per cent since their high.

B&B has endured a disastrous few months, losing its chief executive Steven Crenshaw, seeing investors largely ignore a £400m rights issue, and posting major profit warnings.

The B&B fundraising was particularly catastrophic from a comms perspective. In April the firm denied it needed to raise cash only to announce a rights issue in May. Then in June the rights issue was repriced when B&B issued a profits warning and admitted Crawshaw was too ill to continue working.

‘The plan is to review strategically, operationally and structurally,’ said McGarahan. He also said he has no immediate plans to replace long standing financial PR agency Finsbury, although he did say the agency would be part of the review.

McGarahan reports to Richard Pym, the firm’s new CEO, who joined only two weeks ago. He will sit on the former building society’s executive board.

Previously, B&B relied on a two-pronged comms structure, with head of PR Nickie Aiken reporting to the group sales director, and IR chief Katherine Conway reporting to the group finance director. Both will now report to McGarahan.

McGarahan is a veteran of turnaround roles, having advised at Equitable Life after its near-collapse in 2000 and Lord Penrose’s subsequent investigation into its business practices. More recently he rejigged AXA’s comms structure.

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