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Financier Brian Pitman, who led Lloyds Bank, dies

LONDON - Brian Pitman, the banker who led Lloyds TSB to become one of Europe's largest financial groups, has died at age 78, the British Bankers' Association said.

Pitman died Thursday following a heart attack earlier in the week.

Angela Knight, chief executive of the Bankers' Association, called Pitman "a giant" of the financial industry who was "widely recognized for his knowledge and ability as well as his willingness to get involved."

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, who earlier this year hired Pitman as chairman of Virgin Money, called him "the most respected banker of his generation."

Pitman joined Lloyds Bank in 1952, and served as chief executive officer from 1983 to 1997, moving up to chairman from 1997 to 2001.

He built Lloyds from a small bank to one of Europe's largest through acquisitions and the merger with TSB Bank PLC in 1995. He was conservative in his approach, shunning investment banking and giving up on international expansion following losses in a sovereign debt crisis in Latin America.

Pitman remained active after standing down at Lloyds. He was an adviser to Morgan Stanley International, and served on the boards of Singapore Airlines, Tomkins and Carphone Warehouse. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their three children.

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