Good luck to Sir Philip Hampton, chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, if it's correct that he will depart next year to take up the same post at GlaxoSmithKline.
Five crisis-strewn years at RBS probably counts as a decent spell of public service these days, even when you're being paid £750,000 a year. Moving from banking to pharmaceuticals also looks a lot easier than jumping in the other direction, as Sir Tom McKillop (the ex-AstraZeneca boss who chaired RBS at the moment of catastrophe) could attest to.
But who would replace Hampton at RBS? That's the interesting question if the chairman is off, whether to GSK or elsewhere. It will not be an easy post to fill. The usual suspects might take a sniffy view of the behind-the-scenes aggro that caused chief executive Stephen Hester to depart. They might say that, if the Treasury is determined to dictate strategy to RBS, it might as well go the whole hog and install one of its own civil servants as chairman.
If the government wants another high-profile business figure to succeed Hampton, the best advice is to decide how RBS should be managed and then stick to the agreed script. Blowing hot and cold about the merits of early privatisation, which has been this year's experience, would understandably infuriate most candidates.
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