Lloyds Bank disappoints on dividend after mis-selling chargeMonday 03 February 2014 18.59
Lloyds Banking Group dashed investors' hopes of receiving a dividend for 2013 after it took a further £1.8 billion pound mis-selling charge that will blunt its ability to make shareholder payouts until next year.
The UK bank last paid a dividend in 2008 before it was rescued by taxpayers during the financial crisis.
It said it expected to apply to the regulator in the second half of the year to restart dividend payments.
Most analysts and investors had expected the bank to announce a small dividend for 2013 alongside its full-year results later this month.
Banking and political sources have said that Lloyds' dividend plans would be an important factor in the government's decision on when to sell its remaining 33% stake in the bank.
British Chancellor George Osborne wants to sell the stake by the next parliamentary election in 2015 and is keen for some of the shares to be offered to the public. Retail investors would find Lloyds' stock more attractive if it was paying a dividend.
Lloyds said last October it would set out its dividend policy alongside its 2013 results, but had not stated when it expected to restart payments.
Lloyds rushed out an unscheduled trading update today head of its full-year results on February 14, flagging the new charge for mis-selling loan insurance. That takes the total it has set aside to compensate customers mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) to £9.8 billion.
PPI was sold by banks and other lenders to millions of customers. But the policies were discredited when it emerged many borrowers were ineligible to claim on them - leaving the industry with a £20 billion compensation bill.
Lloyds' Finance Director George Culmer declined to comment on whether the bank would have been able to pay a dividend for 2013 if it had not taken another mis-selling charge.
Rival Royal Bank of Scotland also published an unscheduled update last week, saying it would take £3 billion of new charges to cover the cost of past misconduct.
Despite its latest mis-selling setback, Lloyds remains much closer to returning to private hands than RBS, which is seen as being three to five years away from a return to privatisation.
Lloyds is preparing a prospectus for the sale of government-owned shares to the public after the state raised £3.2 billion through the sale of a 6% stake in September. Mr Culmer said today that process was "pretty well advanced".
The size and structure of the sale will be decided by Britain's finance ministry and UK Financial Investments, which manages the government's stakes in Lloyds and RBS.
A sale to the public would mark a significant milestone in Britain's recovery from the crisis, when taxpayers pumped a combined £66 billion into the two banks.
Starting from a small base next year, Lloyds is aiming to build up its dividend payouts to a ratio of at least 50% of sustainable earnings in the medium-term.
Lloyds said underlying profit was £6.2 billion in 2013 and it expects to announced a "small statutory profit before tax" when it publishes full-year earnings on February 13.