Belfast Telegraph

Thousands of jobs face axe at Lloyds in bid to save £1bn

By Jamie Grierson

Lloyds Banking Group is expected to signal thousands more job cuts today as part of a drive to save an extra £1bn a year in costs.

The taxpayer-backed lender is reportedly looking at up to 15,000 job losses — though it is unclear whether chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio will give a specific figure.

Mr Horta-Osorio will unveil his strategic review today, spelling out how he plans to turn around the bank, which is 41% state-owned.

Slashing further jobs will be the latest blow to staff, as some 27,500 jobs have been lost since the group was formed when Lloyds TSB and HBOS merged early in 2009.

The savings — on top of the £2bn a year already achieved following the merger — are likely to focus on stripping away layers of management and lead to hundreds of job losses at its head office.

Mr Horta-Osorio, the Portuguese-born banker who took the top post in March after being poached from rival Santander, is understood to be planning to trim the bank's overseas interests but will pledge to revive the Halifax brand and keep the Scottish Widows insurance arm.

He is also likely to reveal that Lloyds is on course for an early exit from the Bank of England's special liquidity scheme, which was set up in 2008 as a lifeline for banks battling to raise finance during the credit crunch.

The loans must be repaid by January, when the Bank of England intends to close the scheme.

Investors will also be looking for guidance on whether the group intends to restart paying dividends next year once a European ban on payouts to shareholders comes to an end.

The European Commission also ordered the bank to sell 632 branches as a condition of state aid, but the UK's independent commission on banking has indicated it wants to see this figure extended.

Mr Horta-Osorio is pressing for indicative bids for the branches by July in a move to pre-empt the commission's final report in September.

Belfast Telegraph