Sir Victor Blank is a successful public figure in UK business and has particular expertise and authority in the fields of finance, law, media and government.
He left Oxford with a degree in Modern History in 1963 and joined the City law firm Clifford-Turner. He qualified as a solicitor in 1966 and became a Partner in Clifford-Turner in 1969 (believed to have been the youngest Partner ever appointed).
Sir Victor worked with a team of corporate law experts on takeover, securities and stock exchange activities. Whilst at the firm he led, for a number of years, the team supervising the financial affairs of the firm and was actively involved in its overseas development.
During his time at Clifford-Turner, Sir Victor co-edited the widely acclaimed text book Weinberg & Blank on Take-overs and Mergers with Sir Mark Weinberg.
In 1981 Sir Victor was asked to head the corporate finance department of merchant bank Charterhouse Japhet and to become a Managing Director.
Charterhouse Japhet worked closely with Charterhouse Development Capital, one of the early private equity firms. Sir Victor became Chief Executive and Chairman of the whole Charterhouse Group and in 1985 promoted one of the first buyout funds to be raised in the UK.
In 1985 ownership of the Charterhouse Group of Companies passed to the Royal Bank of Scotland. Sir Victor set a strategy for Charterhouse which was accepted by the Royal Bank of Scotland and he joined the Royal Bank of Scotland Board. He served on this until 1993.
Charterhouse achieved significant success during the course of the 1980’s. Sir Victor’s own contacts and expertise led to one of the biggest and most high profile buyouts in the UK market, namely the buyout of Woolworths’ UK business from its American parent. Charterhouse participated in some of the largest transactions in the 1980’s, including the battle for Distillers, the purchase of Hilton Hotels by Ladbroke and many more.
In the 1990’s, Sir Victor worked with the Royal Bank of Scotland to broaden the ownership of Charterhouse and for a number of years ownership was shared between a French bank, a German bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
In 1997 Sir Victor retired from Charterhouse and within a short time became Chairman of Mirror Group Newspapers and of The Great Universal Stores plc.
Whilst Chairman of Mirror Group Newspapers, he was actively involved in the merger with Trinity, forming Trinity Mirror, the largest newspaper publisher in the UK. He also worked very closely with Sir John Peace (now Chairman of Standard Chartered Bank) to build up a portfolio of companies within GUS with growth potential, to change the culture within the organisation, and ultimately to spin-off the four constituent parts of GUS so as to create value for shareholders. Shareholders in GUS achieved significant enhancement in value over this period.
In 2006 Sir Victor was asked to become Chairman of Lloyds TSB. He shared with the Board an ambition to build Lloyds’ presence in the UK market and, avoiding the temptation to move into expensive or dangerous overseas areas. The Board had long held ambitions to merge with Halifax Bank of Scotland. This was only possible with support, in what were becoming turbulent markets, from the Government. At that time of danger in the financial markets, the Lloyds TSB Board believed that this was the right course of action for the business, establishing it with a number one position in most of the sectors of the retail banking market in the UK. The unexpected and speedy downturn in the UK economy and other factors led to market disappointment in the transaction and Sir Victor in May 2009 announced his retirement from Lloyds Banking Group.
Despite the stigma attaching to banks which had to have Government support (which included Lloyds TSB), Sir Victor is a household name, with influence in business and the City. Described as “imposing yet affable”, upon meeting Sir Victor is it not hard to see how he has made it to major positions in British business life, including his position for four years as UK Ambassador for Business, with his charm, his business savvy and a positive approach to life and to work.