Niall Scott Kilgour Booker (born September 1958) is a Scottish banker who has been Chief Executive of The Co-operative Bank since May 2013. Previously, he spent 30 years working for HSBC, where his roles included country or regional heads in India, Thailand, the Middle East and North America. He has been described as a "clean-up expert", having helped HSBC in North America to recover from sub-prime lending losses and from money-laundering issues.
Booker was born in the Middle East, where his father was working for the British Colonial Service. He grew up in Scotland and went to Glenalmond College in Perthshire. He then studied history and law at Gonville and Caius College at the University of Cambridge. He has joint British and Irish citizenship as his wife is from Ireland and they have a house in County Sligo. Booker and his wife have two children. He joined the Governing Council of his school in 2012 after he retired from HSBC.
Booker joined HSBC in September 1979 after university and worked for the bank continuously until retiring in 2011. He was promoted through the ranks, becoming chief executive of HSBC India where he grew the Bank's market share. He moved to work in the United States in 2002 before heading up the Dubai-based HSBC Bank Middle East in 2006 where he oversaw record profits. In 2007, he moved to HSBC Finance Corporation, HSBC's US sub-prime lending business, which had been making heavy losses, initially as chief operating officer and then chief executive.
After successfully restructuring the sub-prime business he became chief executive of HSBC North America in August 2010 and joined HSBC's Group Management Board. He oversaw the reduction in the bank's US activities including the sale of its 195 Upstate New York branch network to First Niagara Financial Group in August 2011 for about $1 billion. He left HSBC in October 2011 as part of a management reshuffle, when the post was merged with the CEO of HSBC USA. He earned a reported £2m in his final year.
In 2013, he came out of retirement when he was appointed chief executive of the Co-operative Bank, Britain's largest mutual bank and ninth largest retail bank. The Co-op had just reported a £600m loss and a six notch downgrade by Moodys. When he was appointed, analysts estimated the bank was facing a capital shortfall of over £1bn. Booker was also appointed the deputy chief executive of The Co-operative Group but stood down three months later when the bank's shareholding was restructured and the Co-op Group lost its majority stake.
Six months after he took over, Booker oversaw a £1.5bn recapitalisation of the bank through a bail-in of its subordinated debt and a capital injection from hedge funds which had bought up much of the debt. As a result, the Co-op Group lost majority control of the bank. To safeguard the bank's ethical reputation among customers it introduced an "ethical code of conduct" into the bank's constitution and set up a formal values and ethics committee to monitor its business. In March 2014, he oversaw an additional £400m rights issue to cover additional losses as the bank's capital ratio was close to the regulatory minimum.
Booker also announced plans to cut costs by reducing the bank's branch network by 15%. It was reported that Booker's salary for his first 6 months was £1.7m and for 2014 would include a salary of £1.2m, a bonus of up to £1.7m if the bank maintains its capital position and up to £1.2m for a long-term incentive plan. This was four times the salary of his predecessor who received £595,000.
In advance of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, Booker signed a letter from the "Better Together" campaign urging people to vote against independence from the United Kingdom.
Booker lists his interests as opera, art and golf. He is a friend of the Hawk's Well Theatre in Sligo.