Lloyds to reiterate likelihood of a return to profit this year

LLOYDS Banking Group is expected to cheer investors today by revealing a significant downward trend in impairments and reiterating the likelihood of the bank returning to profit over the full financial year.

Lloyds, which is the first of the UK banks to report first-quarter figures this morning, is expected by analysts to forecast impairments of between £12bn and £15bn for the full year.

The group said in a surprise trading update in March that bad debt provisions were at lower levels than anticipated and that it expects to be back in the black at the end of this year.

Michael Helsby, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said in a note yesterday: “We increasingly feel that Lloyds will be profitable in the first half, let alone the full year.”

The results come after a senior Lloyds executive yesterday confirmed the bank’s plans to become one of the top five largest private banks in the UK within five years as part of an aggressive expansion of its wealth management unit§.

Malcolm Glaister, a director in charge of the high net worth client business, said the bank is actively looking to lure senior private bankers to beef up the division.