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View the article online at http://citywire.co.uk/wealth-manager/article/a631477

Lloyds plots £1bn SJP sale

by Alex Steger , Dylan Lobo on Nov 05, 2012 at 07:49

Lloyds plots £1bn SJP sale

Lloyds Banking Group is plotting to raise £1 billion through the sale of its 60% stake in tied advice force St James’s Place (SJP), according to reports.

The Sunday Times reported that the bank’s 60% holding could be placed with investors on the market before the end of 2012.

The news comes with Lloyds locked in talks with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) about paying a dividend. It is understood the regulator is reluctant for the bank to resume the payout - which has been suspended since the start of the financial crisis five years ago -unless the bank's capital position strengthens.  

The paper reported that Lloyds’ strategy director Antonio Lorenzo is heading the disposal plan, which could have the potential to raise enough cash to allay the FSA's concerns.

The paper said the sale of Lloyds’ stake in SJP was ‘not imminent’ but ‘under active consideration’.

Lloyds has clung onto the stake in the profitable wealth management business amid regulatory to pressure to sell non-core units in the wake of the credit crisis.

At the start of last year, reports suggested the bank was looking for a buyer for the stake as new chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio launched his strategic review.

SJP subsequently got backing from Lloyds after its chief executive David Bellamy demanded clarity on Lloyds' intentions for his firm. ‘The business isn’t impacted, investors and clients don’t do things because of the shareholders. I don’t think it will impact, but it will take away uncertainty and distraction, and we want it resolved,’ Bellamy said in May 2011.

According to the Sunday Times, Lloyds has sounded out SJP chief executive David Bellamy (pictured) about a possible sale.

Numbers from SJP last week underlined the firm's strength, with assets under management moving towards the £33 billion mark.

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