UK bank Lloyds suffers loss on COVID-19 pandemic

31 July, 2020 12:00 AM printer

LONDON: Britain’s Lloyds Banking Group on Thursday logged a first-half net loss after booking a vast £3.8-billion ($4.9-billion, 4.2-billion-euro) hit as coronavirus sparked a “significant deterioration” in the outlook.

The lender said in a statement that it suffered a loss after taxation of £234 million in the first half of 2020 compared with a year-earlier profit of £1.94 billion, warning the deadly COVID-19 outbreak was having a “profound” effect, reports AFP.

And it nursed a pre-tax loss of £602 million in the reporting period. That was far worse than analysts’ forecasts for a slender loss of £31 million—and contrasted with pre-tax profit of £2.9 billion in the same part of last year.

“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of 2020 has been profound on the way we live our lives and on the global economy,” said Lloyds’ chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio in Thursday’s earnings release.

“We remain fully focused on helping our customers and the UK economy recover, in collaboration with government and our regulators.”

LBG’s impairment charge came one day after rival UK bank Barclays took a similar hit of £3.7 billion and warned of a possible second wave of the virus.

The cash should help both lenders weather the increased risks that customers may not be able to repay bank loans on the back of the coronavirus-induced recession.

Britain’s sharp economic downturn was sparked by the three-month nationwide lockdown on March 23 which was not relaxed until early June.

Turning to the outlook, LBG warned it expected to book a coronavirus-linked impairment charge of between £4.5 billion and £5.5 billion for the whole year.

“There have been early signs of recovery in the group’s core markets, mainly in consumer spending and the housing market, but the outlook remains highly uncertain and the impact of lower rates and economic fragility will continue for at least the rest of the year,” the bank noted.

“The group’s updated 2020 guidance reflects a proactive response to the challenging economic environment and is based on the group’s recently revised current economic assumptions, which have deteriorated since the first quarter.”

In late Thursday morning deals, Lloyds shares dropped 8.4 percent to 25.99 pence on London’s FTSE 100 index, which was down 1.3 percent.

“The current environment is proving to be a hard slog for Lloyds, and the difficulties are unfortunately set to continue,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at online broker Interactive Investor.

“Since its last update, Lloyds estimates that the economic outlook has deteriorated further, partly because of the immediate impact of the pandemic in its second quarter, but also due to the likelihood of significantly higher defaults on loans in the next few months as various government support schemes subside.”