Lloyds expected to report £4bn loss

 

Part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group will move to reassure taxpayers that it remains on the road to recovery tomorrow despite expected losses of around £4 billion for last yea

The losses, which compare to a £281 million profit the previous year and are driven by a £3.2 billion hit to tackle the payment protection insurance scandal, are twice the size of those at fellow state-backed bank Royal Bank of Scotland.

The 41% state-owned bank has some way to go before delivering a decent return to the taxpayer as, at 36p, its share price is still nearly half the price tag of 63p a share paid by the Government for its stake.

In contrast to RBS, Lloyds, which has no investment banking arm, has managed to duck the bonus row so far, after its chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio waived his bonus following an extended absence due to ill health.

However, there were calls earlier this week for the Portuguese boss to repay some of his signing-on award after the lender decided to strip 13 directors, including former chief executive Eric Daniels of about £2 million in bonuses.

But like RBS, Lloyds is going through a massive overhaul, which will include around 15,000 job cuts and the EU-enforced sale of 632 branches - dubbed Project Verde.

The City will be looking for an update on how much this restructuring will cost the bank, which owns more than 2,000 branches in the UK, as well as any progress made on completing the sale of its branches to preferred bidder the Co-operative Bank.

Robert Law, senior banks analyst at Nomura, has predicted the so-called Project Verde sale will be a flop.

"The Project Verde disposal is likely to prove disappointing and involve a book value loss for Lloyds, as well as earnings dilution," he said.

"Lloyds named the Co-operative Bank as the preferred buyer last year, but has maintained work on an initial public offering as an option in case agreement is not concluded."

However, he said the core high street businesses were "relatively strongly positioned, with healthy market shares".

Mr Horta-Osorio, who returned to work last month after taking two months off due to severe sleep problems, said he acknowledged that his absence had an impact both "inside and outside the bank, including for shareholders".

Mr Horta-Osorio could have received a maximum of 225% of his annual salary, which equates to a total of £2.4 million, but chose not to take the payment.

PA

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