LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - 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.