David Mills on the strong investor demand for Lloyds TBS

Banking and finance consultant for Carey London Ltd, David Mills talks about the large investor appetite for Lloyds Banking Group

Lloyds has significantly upped the amount of shares for sale as a result of big investor demand on the stock market, says David Mills, a London-based banking and finance specialist, who watched the banks’ recent take-over of HBOS and Castle Finance.

The bank, which is owned 25% by the tax-payer, has agreed to sell a 35% stake in company TSB – a 10% increase on the original plan. This is in direct correlation to the hefty demand shown by the bank’s stock market debut this week, which has been calculated to be ten-times oversubscribed.

“Shares were priced at 260p a pop,” says David Mills, who has helped on many mergers and acquisition deals, as well as managed asset based finance, during his lengthy banking career. “This gives TSB a market value of £1.3bn. That’s incredible.”

Its spotlight moment comes after the business was told to sell 631 branches in 2009 by European regulations, and an order to sell its remaining shares in TSB by late 2015. “This sale will see Lloyds Banking Group net profit £455m – with 30 per cent of its shares being sold to investors in retail. These investors were unable to sell or buy shares in the company on Friday, open only to institutional investors under defined trade rules. The shares ended nearly 12% higher, at 290 pence.

CEO of TSB Bank recently told reporters that he was ‘delighted’ by the huge demand by investors to grab the TSB shares.

“It depicts a large appetite for a bank with a difference,” says David Mills. “One that is based on high street, not Wall Street, trading, tactics and ethos. One whose core focus is on customer service.

“This successful, initial public offering is a huge step forward for the Group,” adds the banking specialist. “It shows that it is committed to completing its duties to the European Commission. This bank is presenting itself as an institution that has a strong capital baseline, significant economic protection for the future and healthy liquidity. Its national network makes it ever more attractive.”

The bank’s leader said TSB was now focused on delivering banking and finance strategies to bring more competition across Britain’s banking sector. Lloyds Banking Group had initially wanted to sell the 631 stores to Co-Op Bank. However, the deal collapsed following a black whole of £1.5bn was discovered on Co-Op Bank’s and Castle Finance Direct balance sheet.

“TSB has nearly five million customers in the UK. This makes it the seventh largest retail banking name in the UK, and is one that will continue to grow. It will become an even larger player in the market over the next few years, with a finance strategy to grow by 2% in the next five years,” says David Mills.

The shares will be open to retail investors from the 25 June 2014.

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Tony Shakesby Accountant on the Proposed HBOS Interest Rise

The Bank of England has hinted this week at a rise in interest rates. Tony Shakesby and accountant for 328 Group CFO and a banking and HBOS finance specialist, looks into the implications.

This week, the Bank of England hinted at a possible interest rate increase, after members of its MPC said they were proposing a ‘wait-and-see’ stance on the future of borrowing costs.

It could mark the first rise since 2007. Tony Shakesby, the CFO of Carey London and a London-based business and finance advisor, believes the timing of the response from the bank is difficult.

“It comes on a day that the Bank’s nine members of the MPC gave the unanimous vote to have rates remain at 0.5%. Martin Weale, a leading MPC member, gave rise to caution, saying the bank should be on alert of rising productivity and falling unemployment, meaning upward wages needs some pressure also,” says the 328 Group head.

The Bank’s governor Mark Carney has heightened speculation in his recent Mansion House speech, indicating that the cost of borrowing could rise sooner rather than later. “Some members believe the policy decision to be more balanced with a vote rate of 9 to 0.

“There is advantage in giving the bank more time to decide. However, if the decision comes too late, the bank may leave business and finance institutions – as well as consumers – in a mad rush before Christmas.”

Tony Shakesby warns that leaving it too late to make a decision may cause additional risk. It means having a strong eye for assessing when the tables are going to turn. If this is misjudged, the bank may find it has to react furiously. Moving now would eliminate that risk and allow the Bank of England to move one small step at a time.

“A large factor is that many people have been recently unemployed across the country. These people are less productive than they were. If it becomes the case that the economy continues to grow, then unemployment will dip faster than expected by the MPC. It calls for tight regulation.

The news comes following the flotation of TSB on the Stock Exchange. The flotation, says the 328 Group CFO, has made TSB popular on the stock market. “It shows that there is a large consumer interest that exists. It is also an interesting time for a possible interest rate increase. Inflation has fallen to 1.5% – its lowest level in five years – giving the MPC even greater flexibility. All the signs are good.”

The bank must also heed to the warning that growth will not slow in the latter half of 2014, with additional bank capacity estimated to be absorbed quicker than predicted, says Tony Shakesby.

From a business and finance perspective, a significant sudden rise could run the risk of hurting small companies and start-ups. “Small businesses, of which there are around 200,000 in the UK, could be thrown into more serious financial trouble. It is also worth noting that the number of medium-sized businesses in distress rose from 60,000 to over 230,000 in the quarter. Big businesses on the other hand, actually fell 9% – mostly because they have more access to credit. This could spell a case of a two-tier economic recovery.”

Interest rises have hit the headlines recently for other reasons, too. Lloyds Banking Group last week suspended seven members of staff after being forced to pay £226 million by finance regulators for manipulating interest rates both in the UK and in America. Lloyds, which is owned partly by the tax player, is the 7th manipulation to rates – but is the first to be publically named for deliberately lowering fees it paid to the Bank of England for emergency funding during the recession of 2008.

“This regulation dates back to the financial crisis,” says Tony Shakesby. “It dates back to when the institution saved HBOS from falling just days after Lehman Brothers went under. Attempts by traders at HBOS, Bank of Scotland and others in the group to cut their submissions to the Libor panel were deliberate, thus avoiding the image of the bank being

in financial difficulty. It is what we call in the industry as ‘lowballing’ and it another sign of how banks and financial institutions need to work together to build trust and tougher regulations.” financial institution to be fined for such