Lloyds Banking Group is allocating £3.6 billion that will be used to cover the ever-increasing number of claims filed related to mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI). This scandal may also overshadow what Lloyds, which is 39.7 percent state-owned, refers to as the “substantial progress” it has made.

Lloyds PPI Claims

Although this event caused pre-tax profits to slide by £288 million in the first quarter of 2012, the overall picture seems to be considerably brighter today. For example, officials revealed higher underlying profits, lower euro zone exposure and a major reduction in bad debts, causing the bank share to rise by almost 5 percent.

Lloyds has also made a sizeable payment toward the support it received from the Bank of England and the government, and it is down 77 percent, compared to a year ago. However the group, which includes the Halifax, took a £3.5 billion loss last year because of the PPI situation, and taxpayers have no way of knowing when their money will be returned to them.

Previously, Antonio Horta-Osorio, chief executive, noted that 2012 would be a difficult year for the bank. He also announced that large portions of its international operations would be sold off and thousands of employees would lose their jobs, both of which were the result of his strategic review of Lloyds’ status in the marketplace.

On the positive side, the Portuguese banker reported that the bank’s non-core assets had been reduced with the disposal of several businesses, including the sale of its onshore business in Dubai to HSBC. The process is expected to continue in 2013, and these disposals do affect total income, which declined by 7 percent. Lloyds has reduced its bad debt provision to £1.7 billion, which was 31 percent lower than the previous quarter, and its exposure to problematic euro zone countries, such as Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain, which was lowered by 6 percent, is now £22.9 billion.

In the first quarter, the bank also provided £3.25 billion in new lending for small businesses and is also fulfilling its pledge of £12 billion in new lending to small- and medium-sized companies in the current year. The extent of Lloyds’ PPI problems was revealed when they were highlighted in a sobering set of statistics the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) released. This independent arbitrator, which has the task of investigating complaints that a firm and customer were unable to resolve satisfactorily, received approximately 19,569 new communications related to Lloyds.

This represented more than 13 percent of complaints referred to FOS from January to July. Surprisingly, 16,965 of Lloyds’ complaints were related to PPI, which is sold along with mortgages, credit cards and loans made to assist borrowers who become unemployed or are unable to work. In 63 percent of the complaints brought against Lloyds, FOS determined that the customer was right. This rate was higher that that of the other four biggest banks in the UK.

It also signifies that Lloyds Banking Group, which was created when Halifax Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group merged in 2008, received a total of 32,590 complaints. Natalie Ceeney, chief ombudsman, commented that the 54 percent increase in complaints for all areas combines were mainly a reflection of the problems related to PPI festering throughout the banking industry.

Last April, the banks were defeated in a High Court battle in their attempt to stop customers from submitting mis-selling complaints. By August, the FOS was receiving a record-breaking 900 complaints every business day. This was also the time when many High Street Banks and certain other financial institutions put all PPI complaints on hold due to their legal challenge with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the ombudsman service. Lloyds has stressed that it is no longer involved in exclusive negotiations with Co-op in regard to purchasing 632 of Lloyds’ branches, although discussion are continuing, NBNK, a financial investment firm, has expressed interest in the deal, and detailed discussions with other bidders will also be considered.

The bank is working simultaneously on back-up plans of its own to float the business known as “Verde” on the stock market. Lloyds’ shares have fallen 50 percent in the past year at approximate 31.7p. This is about half the price of 63p the Government paid for its share during the recent financial crisis. Currently, it seems unlikely that the Government’s 70p-plus break-even point will be reached within the near future. Lloyds is making progress that can only be described as “slow and steady,” and the lack of a dividend prevents potential buyers from being interested in doing business with the bank.

PPI Claims News

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Tim Capper reports on Financial Mis-Selling for Maple Leaf Financial. Our aim is to ensure you get honest advice and proper guidance to ensure a suitable recommendation can be made to pursue a financial claim

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Tim Capper

Bringing you financial news and information in plain english for Maple Leaf Financial. My aim is to help readers understand these often complex financial instruments.