Lloyds mulls selling stake in St James’ Place

Tim Wallace
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BAILED out bank Lloyds is believed to be considering a sale of its stake in wealth management company St James’ Place, it emerged over the weekend.

The 60 per cent stake in the wealth management unit was acquired as part of the bank’s ill-fated takeover of failed institution HBOS in 2008.

It is thought the bank could raise more than £1bn from the sale of its large stake in the FTSE 250 business.

St James’ Place’s shares have risen 23 per cent so far this year, and last week it reported strong third quarter sales.

Assets under management increased six per cent to £32.8bn in the three-month period, while new business increased eight per cent.

“St James Place is a good business that is performing well and we are comfortable with our shareholding,” said a spokesperson from Lloyds, declining to comment on the prospect of a sale.

The bank’s strategy director Antonio Lorenzo is leading the disposal plan, according to the Sunday Times.

The bank is already undergoing a range of divestments, including the sale of 623 branches to the Co-operative Bank, and was forced to sell a range of risky non-core asset portfolios inherited from HBOS, all as part of the European Commission’s approval of its bailout.

But the sale of St James’ Place is not part of those conditions. Rather, it has long been expected that the bank will sell off the stake in the wealth manager as a non-core part of the group.