The chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group PLC on Thursday said he had fully recovered from a prolonged bout of insomnia that prompted a leave of absence and was ready to return to work in early January.
Disclosing more details about the unexpected leave, the bank said that António Horta-Osório would return Jan. 9 and the decision for his return was unanimous after the board had received independent medical evidence that he is in the clear.
"I am 100% recovered. I take my responsibility very seriously and if I weren't 100% recovered, I wouldn't have told the board I was ready to return," he said in an interview.
Horta-Osório sent shock waves through London's financial community last month when the bank said he was taking a leave of absence due to "exhaustion." Time off for fatigue is a virtually unheard-of move for the chief executive of a major bank, and it was especially surprising for Horta-Osório, who had been on the job less than a year and has been seen as a rising star in the financial world in London.
He had been in such a state of overdrive that he couldn't sleep, culminating in a recent stretch of five consecutive nights without sleep, triggering his leave of absence, according to people familiar with the matter. Horta-Osório spent several weeks at a U.K. clinic, The Priory, known for treating celebrities for exhaustion, stress and other issues.
His departure set off a scramble at Lloyds. At first, the bank appointed Finance Director Tim Tookey as interim CEO—but only as a short-term measure as Tookey already had said in September that he was leaving in 2012 to become chief financial officer of Friends Life, a pension and insurance firm.
Lloyds subsequently said nonexecutive director David Roberts would take over from Tookey as interim CEO if Horta-Osório didn't return by January.
Lloyds, the U.K.'s third-largest bank by assets, recruited Horta-Osório last year to succeed then-CEO Eric Daniels. Horta-Osório had earned a reputation as a savvy banker and charismatic leader during his time at the helm of Banco Santander SA's U.K. unit. Upon becoming CEO last March, Horta-Osório quickly replaced most of Daniels's senior management team with new executives, many imported from Santander.
Known in the business as a micromanager, Horta-Osório launched an ambitious overhaul of the bank when he took up his post in March this year. He expedited the sale of the bank's 632-branch network as part of a wide-ranging asset disposal program and instituted a broad costs-savings strategy.
On his return, Horta-Osório will have his workload lightened by the rest of management who will have more power, Lloyds said, adding that the move was at Horta-Osório's suggestion. This will prevent any recurrence of his exhaustion, said Win Bischoff, Lloyds chairman. "We believe, and he believes, that he is fully recovered and that there will be no relapse," Bischoff said on a conference call Wednesday.
This story first appeared on WSJ.com.