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Exclusive: Grimstone Gets Top City Role

(c) Sky News 2012

The chairman of Standard Life (Other OTC: SLFPF.PK - news) will be handed one of the most challenging tasks in the financial services sector when he is appointed to head the City's biggest lobbying group.

I have learned that Gerry Grimstone is to become chairman of TheCityUK , which was set up after the 2008 banking crash to restore the Square Mile's reputation, pending approval at a board meeting today.

If Mr Grimstone's appointment is ratified by both TheCityUK's board and its advisory council, he will replace Stuart Popham, a top City lawyer, in October.

The change at the helm comes as the City faces attack by politicians, regulators and the public over the Libor-rigging scandal that is likely to see many of the world's biggest banks fined billions of pounds for attempting to manipulate the interbank borrowing rate.

UK regulators are also under pressure from their US counterparts for presiding over what one official called "another made-in-London financial crisis" (see my story from yesterday about this) .

Senior City figures say TheCityUK has had limited impact in restoring the tarnished reputation of the financial services industry, although they accept that the relentless flow of misselling and other scandals has not given the organisation a credible platform from which to work.

"[Mr] Popham has at least given the industry a fighting chance during his tenure," one source said.

Mr Grimstone, who is already a member of TheCityUK's advisory board, has a long pedigree in the financial services industry, and has been chairman of Standard Life since 2007.

He was a contender to become chairman of the Court of the Bank of England in 2009 although his appointment (and that of the other candidate, Sir Win Bischoff) was blocked by Alistair Darling, the then Chancellor.

TheCityUK was unavailable for comment.