Lloyds to sell off branches as boss signals bonus clawback

LLOYDS Banking Group is speeding ahead with the forced sale of 600 branches by the end of this year, chairman Sir Win Bischoff has said, despite uncertainty over whether it could be made to sell more by the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB).

Bischoff also indicated that the bank could be the first to make use of claw-back clauses in bonus awards to punish execs involved in mis-selling payment protection insurance, which could cost the bank up to £3.2bn.

On the branch sales, the Lloyds chair said the sale is moving “with full speed and we hope to identify a potential purchaser by the end of 2011”. The European Commission has mandated that a sale be fully completed by November 2013.

But the schedule is in defiance of the ICB, which has said that it wants the sales to be “substantially enhanced” before they go ahead so as to promote competition. It is not clear if its proposals will have any legal force, however.

It is understood that Lloyds has so far identified around 340 branches, comprised of Lloyds TSB Scotland and Cheltenham & Gloucester, to be sold. It has yet to find the remaining 260 branches that it will sell.

The ICB declined to comment.