Lloyds Banking () boss Antiono Horta-Osorio is to return to the company from an illness break in the New Year, the bank said today.
It has also named the Co-operative group as the preferred bidder for 632 branches put up for sale to meet European Union state aid rules.Lloyds stunned investors six weeks ago when it announced Mr Horta-Osorio was to take temporary leave due to fatigue.
Today it said that an independent medical investigation had concluded Horta-Osorio had made a full recovery and would return as chief executive on 9 January.
The bank added that it had also agreed to an initiative from Horta-Osorio to restructure and reduce his direct reporting lines in order to strengthen the accountabilities of his senior management team.
Lloyds said its decision to choose the Co-op for its branch sale reflected its desire for a direct sale rather than a float of the business, though it will continue to progress its and for an IPO while the discussions with the Co-op continue.
The aim is to agree broad terms by the end of the first quarter of 2012, Lloyds added.
Reports recently had suggested the bank had struggled to attract acceptable offers for the branch network, due in part to a potential funding shortfall.
Aside from the Co-op, the only other firm bidder was the newly formed bank .
Tim Tookey, Lloyds interim chief executive said: "We are pleased to be reporting progress with the Verde divestment which continues to move forward in line with our expectations. I am confident that we will complete the transaction by the end of November 2013, in line with the EC mandated timescale."