Lloyds offloads St James’s stake as sell-off looms

LLOYDS is selling its final stake in insurance firm St James’s Place for around £695m, the bank revealed yesterday, fulfilling a key part of its plan to focus on UK retail banking.

The slimmed-down model is part of the bank’s privatisation plan – the government sold a five per cent stake in September for £3.2bn, and hopes for further profits as it sells its remaining 32.7 per cent holding.

Lloyds also sold a portfolio of corporate real estate loans yesterday to private equity firm Cerberus for £90m.

Institutional investors are expected to snap up the 21 per cent stake in St James’s Place, with the deal likely to price today. Lloyds has made gains of £550m on the sales, including £95m from this tranche.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has run the book on the sale at each stage, led by Rupert Hume-Kendall.

The sell-out means non-executive directors from the bank, Sue Harris and Alison Hewitt, are likely to leave St James’s Place’s board soon, joining Steve Colsell who has already announced his exit.

Meanwhile, the real estate deal is Cerberus’ sixth acquisition from Lloyds so far this year, after it acquired three European commercial real estate loan portfolios for over £1.1bn since September alone.