The move is being seen as a milestone in the UK bank’s recovery – having been bailed out by the UK government to the tune of £20bn in 2008, it has done its best to sell off international assets (aside from these in ‘low-risk’ countries such as Germany and the Netherlands).
‘The sale is in line with the group's strategy of focusing on the UK, rationalising its international presence and ensuring best value for shareholders,’ said a spokesperson for Lloyds.
This latest sale includes Lloyds’ corporate loans, motor and equipment financing businesses in Australia – which have combined loan books of around £5.3bn. Westpac, Australia’s second largest bank is pretty pleased with the sale, saying it made ‘strategic sense.’ (No wonder, it looks like it's getting a pretty good deal).
‘These are strongly performing businesses that we know well and that will expand our reach and capability in target segments,’ said Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly.
Lloyds has been shedding assets left right and centre to keep its largest shareholder, the UK government happy. Its German life insurance business has sold, its international private banking arm and its Spanish retail banking business. Then there’s the hiving off of TSB, which it aims to float early next year.
The bank has been seen as a frontrunner in the recovery of the UK’s bruised banking sector. The government currently owns 33% of the bank, following the successful sale of 6% for £3.2bn last month.
With the oversubscribed Royal Mail IPO going great guns, it would appear the government’s assets serving the Treasury pretty well so far. Now…what to do about RBS?