Lloyds ready to grow branches as profits return

 
Tim Wallace
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LLOYDS Banking Group is preparing to open new branches after years of consolidation and balance sheet repair, the lender said yesterday, in a key indication its turnaround is complete.

Its Halifax brand will enter Scotland for the first time this year with new branches in the biggest three cities.



And the TSB Bank will be up and running as a new brand from 9 September, launching new products later in the year before floating as an independent lender in the middle of 2014.

It comes as profits surged to £2.1bn in the first half of the year, up from a loss of £456m in the same period of 2012.

Costs are down six per cent on the year, and the bank expects to be £1bn ahead of its savings plan announced in 2011 by the end of this year.

It expects non-core assets to fall below £70bn by the end of the year as it increases its focus on UK retail and corporate lending, achieving that target a year earlier than expected.

As a result the bank will carry out another strategic review next summer, looking at how to increase its market share in areas like consumer credit, small businesses, foreign exchange products and debt capital markets.

Return on equity increased to nine per cent, towards its target of 12.5 to 14.5 per cent, while the core tier one capital ratio jumped to 9.6 per cent from 8.1 per cent six months ago.

And the bank is opening talks with the regulator on re-starting dividend payments.