LONDON Feb 13 State-backed Lloyds Banking Group
could take another step towards returning to private
hands on Thursday when it unveils 2013 results, having already
flagged it will return to profit for the first time since the
2008 financial crisis.
Lloyds, 33 percent-owned by the government, said last week
it will report an underlying profit of 6.2 billion pounds ($10.2
billion) and announce a "small" statutory pretax profit for the
first time since its 20.5 billion pound bailout.
The government's plans to sell off more shares in the bank
could be accelerated if the full details of the results are well
received by investors. UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which
manages the government's stake, sold a six percent shareholding
in the bank last September - kicking off the sale process.
Finance Minister George Osborne wants to sell the stake
before the next election in 2015 and UKFI and the Treasury are
assessing options for future sales.
Banking and political sources say the most likely scenario
continues to be a second sale of Lloyds' shares to institutions
such as pension funds and insurers in March or April followed by
a larger retail offering later in the year.
Lloyds is expected to say it will hand out bonuses worth
nearly 400 million pounds including an award of just under 2
million pounds to Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio,
potentially exposing it to criticism from lawmakers.
Rival Barclays prompted fury among politicians and unions on
Tuesday when it said it would raise bonuses for investment
bankers despite plans to axe 12,000 jobs.