Lloyds to hold its stake in St James’s Place
LLOYDS BANKING GROUP yesterday said it would keep its 60 per cent share in St James’s Place (SJP) for the timebeing, extending uncertainty over the timing of an eventual sale.
Lloyds said it had “no intention to sell down or dispose of its stake in St. James’s Place at this time”. Management hoped the announcement would put an end to the overhang on the wealth manager’s share price, which has been held down as traders anticipated a bulk placing of Lloyds’ stake at a discount, but analysts were unconvinced. One said a sale was now unlikely over the next 12 months, but said: “The black cloud hovering over St. James’s Place has turned into a grey cloud”.
Shares in SJP rose 6.6 per cent to 273.3p as the private client specialist beat analyst consensus with a half-year pre-tax operating profit of £162.1m. Low interest rates and higher income tax helped tempt savers into products such as Isas, sending first half new business sales up 44 per cent to a record £293m.
SJP confirmed an interim dividend of 2p per share and a net asset value of 295p on a European embedded value basis. Pre-tax profits jumped 82 per cent to £36.3m on an IFRS basis.
Chief executive David Bellamy told City A.M. the firm recruited nine per cent more senior staff last year. The strengthened workforce was able to win more business, Bellamy said, saluting the “professionalism and growth in the partnership”.