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#298027 - 5th Mar 2009 10:10pm 250bn Lloyds asset deal on cards
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250bn Lloyds asset deal on cards


Lloyds Banking Group is close to a deal with the government for a 250bn asset insurance scheme, the BBC has learned.

The agreement could mean the taxpayer's share in the bank increasing to 60% from its current level of 43%, according to sources at the Treasury.

It is understood the deal has not yet been finalised and is unlikely before Friday afternoon.

The plan would mean the government insuring up to 250bn of assets which would be paid for in non-voting shares.

It would also mean the bank swapping some of the government's existing non-voting shares for ordinary shares - thus taking the government's overall stake up to 60%.

The deal is part of the Treasury's taxpayer-backed scheme to insure banks' riskiest assets against further losses.

Confidence

It was put forward by Chancellor Alistair Darling in a bid to restore confidence in the banking sector.

RBS was the first bank to sign up, announcing last month that it would put in 325bn of toxic assets.

BBC Political Correspondent Carole Walker said some politicians believed full nationalisation would restore confidence in the banks more quickly.

"There are a number of people in Westminster who believe we are getting closer and closer to full nationalisation," she said.

"[They think] it would be simpler and easier for the government to nationalise the banks and that in the long-term it would save the taxpayer a lot of money."

Some have pointed out that the government has put more money into RBS than its total share value, she added.

THE BBC

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#298396 - 7th Mar 2009 11:44am Treasury takes 65% Lloyds stake [Re: ]
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Treasury takes 65% Lloyds stake


The taxpayer is taking a controlling share of 65% in Lloyds Banking Group, up from the previous 43%.

The government has said new lending from Lloyds will jump to 28bn in the next two years, dwarfing similar figures from Northern Rock and RBS.

The taxpayer will also insure toxic loans worth 260bn ($367bn).

The group had to turn to the government for help following its takeover of HBOS, which recently reported an annual loss of nearly 11bn ($15.5bn).

BBC business correspondent Joe Lynam said: "[The government] is absolutely imposing its writ on the banks that it now controls.

'No more dice'

"It is saying we will impose political decision-making on a bank, rather than just commercial or financial decision-making.

"Basically they're going to install their people on the board of Lloyds banking group and say, right, we're going to see 28bn is set aside for lending, " he said.

"This is the last throw of the dice before full nationalisation of Lloyds and RBS; in economic terms the government will control approaching 80%, in real voting terms, 65%, which means they can impose their will on the bank and they are already starting to do so."
The Treasury Minister, Stephen Timms, spelt out what the deal involved.

He told the BBC the deal committed the banking group to 14bn in lending this year, of which 11bn would go to companies and 3bn for mortgages.

There would then be a similar commitment next year, he said.

Mr Timms said: "It's a very important announcement. It provides new certainty for Lloyds enabling it to commit new lending into the economy.

"Lloyds will bare the initial loss on the assets being insured up to 25bn. It will pay a commercial fee of 16bn for participating in the scheme."

However Mr Timms admitted the government did not know how much of the total losses would be borne by the tax payer.

No way out

Asked about speculation that the taxpayer could lose up to 100bn on the deal, Mr Timms replied: "Precedents would suggest that the loss would be a great deal less than that but as I said we just don't know."

The Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman, Vince Cable, said the government now had to make sure Lloyds Banking Group made good on its commitment.

Mr Cable told the BBC: "The government can't now just sit back as it has with the other banks that it's taken over and just watch them.

"It has to make sure that they are run in the national interest - to make sure for example that they do make lending available to sound borrowers, particularly to companies which are not able to keep going because they can't get working capital."

Mr Timms said the deal meant the bank now had a "legally binding commitment" to fulfil its obligations on public lending.

Hugh Pym, BBC chief economics correspondent said the deal, which was agreed on Friday night, would be "very awkward" for the Lloyds chief executive Eric Daniels and chairman Victor Blank.

They have come increasingly under fire from shareholders for their decision to buy rival HBOS.

It was the January takeover of HBOS - a move that was supported by the government - that has caused the problems at Lloyds.

Lloyds was forced to announced last week that HBOS made a pre-tax loss of 10.8bn in 2008, which it has had to absorb.

By contrast, Lloyds, or Lloyds TSB as it was then known, made a profit of 807m last year, albeit an 80% fall on 2007.

The 260bn insurance deal is part of the Treasury's taxpayer-backed Asset Protection Scheme to insure banks' riskiest assets against further losses.

Restore confidence

The scheme was put forward by Chancellor Alistair Darling in a bid to restore confidence in the banking sector.

Royal Bank of Scotland was the first bank to sign up, announcing last month that it would ask the government to insure 325bn worth of so-called toxic assets, which are difficult to value and currently cannot be sold.

BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said there were now many people in Westminster who believed that full nationalisation of the banks would restore confidence in the sector more quickly than the Asset Protection Scheme.

"[They think] it would be simpler and easier for the government to nationalise the banks, and that in the long-term it would save the taxpayer a lot of money," she said.

Some have pointed out that the government has put more money into RBS than its total share value, she added.

THE BBC

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