Lloyds first quarter profit jumps as CEO Horta-Osorio heads for exit

LONDON (Reuters) -Lloyds Banking Group reported better than expected profits for the first three months of the year, in the last set of results before Chief Executive António Horta-Osório’s leaves Britain’s biggest domestic bank.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a branch of Lloyds bank in London, Britain, July 20, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Lloyds reported 1.9 billion pounds ($2.64 billion) pretax profit for the first quarter on Wednesday, compared to an average of analyst forecasts of 1.1 billion pounds. The bank had posted a narrow 74 million pound quarterly profit a year earlier.

The bank’s profits were boosted by the release of 459 million pounds that had been set aside for expected bad loans. It had been expected to book more charges to cover soured debts.

Horta-Osório is leaving Lloyds after a decade in the role to become Chairman of crisis-hit Swiss bank Credit Suisse, with his appointment expected to be confirmed at an investor meeting on Friday. HSBC executive Charlie Nunn is set to join Lloyds as CEO in August.

HSBC kicked off British bank quarterly earnings on Tuesday by also posting better than forecast profits after a similar release of bad loan provisions.

Like HSBC, Lloyds said the economic outlook in Britain now looked better than it had initially feared, leading to the provisions release and improved guidance for the year.

Lloyds said return on tangible equity was now expected to be 8-10% this year, while net interest margin would be above 2.45%. Costs would be trimmed below 7.5 billion pounds, the bank said.

Horta-Osório is preparing to chair the board at Credit Suisse, widely seen as one of the toughest jobs in banking.

The Swiss lender is reeling from multi-billion dollar losses from the collapse of family office Archegos, the fallout from insolvent British finance company Greensill and a spying scandal last year that ousted its former CEO Tidjane Thiam.

Horta-Osório set out fresh targets to expand Lloyds’ insurance and wealth business and further cut costs in February, but has left formulating a longer term strategy to his successor Nunn.

Nunn rose through the ranks at HSBC to become head of wealth and personal banking, after a career in consulting.

($1 = 0.7205 pounds)

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