Lloyds Bank 2018 profit jumps by more than a quarter

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s Lloyds Banking Group announced surging 2018 profits yesterday on lower mis-selling costs and the “resilient” UK economy – despite looming uncertainty over Brexit.

Earnings after taxation, or net profit, soared 27 per cent to £3.87 billion (USD5.02 billion, 4.43 billion euros) last year, compared with £3.04 billion in 2017, LBG said in a results statement.

Lloyds, which returned to full private ownership in 2017 following its financial rescue by the UK government a decade earlier, added that pre-tax profit rebounded 13 per cent to £5.96 billion.

“Given our UK focus, our performance is inextricably linked to the health of the UK economy,” added Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio.

“Over 2018, economic performance has remained resilient with record employment and continued GDP growth.”

In a nod to uncertainty over Britain’s looming departure from the European Union (EU), he added:

A man passes by the entrance of the Lloyds Banking Group headquarters in London. – AFP

“Whilst the near-term outlook remains unclear, particularly given the ongoing EU withdrawal negotiations, our strategy will continue to deliver for our customers.”

Britain will leave the EU on March 29 – but with five weeks to go, businesses are still fretting over the possibility of a chaotic no-deal departure.

The group, meanwhile, took another £750 million in costs during 2018 for payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling claims.

That was lower than £1.65 billion in 2017, but took the bank’s total bill for the saga to a staggering £19.425 billion.

The lender also hiked its shareholder dividend by five per cent to 3.21 pence per share and proposed a share buyback of up to £1.75 billion.

That represented a total return of up to £4 billion for shareholders, reflecting its optimism over the strong economy.