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22 February 2024, 09:08

Lloyds Banking Group Allocates £450 Million for Car Financing Probe Amid Industry-Wide Concerns

Lloyds Banking Group Allocates £450 Million for Car Financing Probe Amid Industry-Wide Concerns

Lloyds Banking Group, a leading figure in the UK banking sector, has announced a significant provision of £450 million to address potential costs arising from a regulatory investigation into car financing practices. This move comes in the wake of the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) announcement last month, indicating a probe into the commissions associated with car financing deals over the past decade. The scrutiny stems from concerns that these agreements incentivized lenders and dealers to inflate interest rates charged to customers.

Industry analysts have voiced apprehensions that the investigation could impose a hefty financial burden on the sector, with estimates of the total cost reaching up to £16 billion. Lloyds, which owns Black Horse—the largest motor finance provider in the UK—is particularly in the spotlight.

The provision was disclosed alongside the bank's fourth-quarter results, revealing underlying pre-tax profits of £1.8 billion for the final quarter, slightly surpassing analyst predictions. However, quarterly revenues saw a decline to £4.2 billion, falling short of the anticipated £4.4 billion. Despite these challenges, Lloyds reported a full-year profit increase to £7.8 billion, aligning with market expectations, largely benefiting from the prevailing higher interest rates boosting the sector.

Lloyds' shares experienced a minor dip in early trading, reflecting a 10 percent decrease since the year's start, attributed in part to concerns over its ownership of Black Horse. Nevertheless, the bank saw a fourth-quarter impairment credit of £541 million, aided by a substantial repayment from the Telegraph media group and a brighter economic forecast.

The FCA's inquiry echoes the infamous payment protection insurance scandal, with RBC Capital Markets suggesting Lloyds could face the steepest cost among its peers, potentially amounting to £2.5 billion. This regulatory scrutiny emerges as UK banks grapple with undervalued share prices, a situation that has prompted discussions on enhancing market valuations led by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

Bank executives express worry that increased regulatory attention on customer treatment could further depress share values. Charlie Nunn, Lloyds' CEO, acknowledged the importance of the FCA's review but emphasized the need for greater regulatory clarity to address investor concerns, alongside ensuring national economic stability and confidence.

The bank's £450 million provision accounts for operational and legal expenses, along with potential customer compensations. However, Lloyds highlighted the ongoing uncertainty regarding the extent of any misconduct, potential remediation actions, and their timing, suggesting that the actual costs could significantly deviate from current estimates.

Estimations by financial institutions, including Jefferies, JPMorgan, HSBC, RBC Capital Markets, and Shore Capital, suggest the UK banking industry could face a total impact ranging from £6 billion to £16 billion due to the regulatory probe. Amid these challenges, Lloyds has also announced plans for a share buyback of up to £2 billion and a final ordinary dividend of 1.84 pence per share, indicating a cautious optimism for the future.

Notes to the editor

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