Lloyds Banking group Plc beat forecasts with a pretax profit of 792 million pounds ($1.1 billion) in its fourth quarter, helped by a buoyant UK housing market and government support for its borrowers.
Britain’s biggest mortgage lender announced a dividend 0.57 pence per share, marking the end of a year without payouts to protect lending during the pandemic. In a sign that Covid-19 continues to ravage the economy, Lloyds set aside 4.2 billion pounds over the year for loans that could default, although this is below its previous forecast.
“Looking forward, significant uncertainties remain, specifically relating to pandemic and the speed and efficacy of the vaccination programme in the UK and around the world,” CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio said on Wednesday, in his final set of
results before he joins Credit
Suisse Group AG as chairman.
Lloyds has lent 12 billion pounds to businesses through government-backed support programs during the pandemic. It joins rivals NatWest Group Plc and Barclays Plc in setting aside less than forecast for souring loans in the final three months of the year, while cautioning that the outlook was uncertain for the recovering British economy, which has suffered its worst
recession in three centuries.
Lloyds’s CET1 ratio, a key measure of capital strength, rises to 16.4%, partly due to the ban on dividends and buybacks that Bank of England (BOE)
relaxed in December. After
dividends, this will fall to 16.2%.
The bank said its incoming CEO, HSBC’s wealth head Charlie Nunn, will take up his role on August 16. Horta-Osorio, who plans to leave within months after a decade in charge, pushed Lloyds into wealth management and insurance to diversify revenue. The overhaul during his tenure enabled UK government to exit its holding in the bank, which it bailed out in 2008 crisis.