02/11/2011 08:01 GMT | Updated 02/01/2012 05:12 GMT

'Fatigued' Lloyds Chief Antonio Horta-Osorio Seeks Leave Of Absence

Lloyds Banking Group CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio is to take a temporary break from his role on medical advice, the bank confirmed on Wednesday morning in a letter to investors. Horta-Osorio is expected to return to duty by the end of the year, but Lloyds shares fell by 2% on the announcement.

The board is meeting to find an interim replacement for the Portuguese-born banker, who was recruited from high street rival Santander in March.

Since then, Horta-Osorio has announced 15,000 job cuts and the sale of more than 600 branches in a major rationalisation exercise, as well as forcing his industry to address their insurance mis-selling practices by taking a £3.3bn provision for payment protection insurance at Lloyds.

The bank is 40% government owned following a bailout in 2009, and Horta-Osorio has earned plaudits from shareholders for his effective - if sometimes ruthless - management. Senior figures from his predecessor's regime have been removed and the bank's international arm is being dramatically downsized.

Quoting an unnamed source, Reuters reported that the executive is suffering from fatigue prompted by overwork.