Strong TSB debut lifts prospects for future share sales-Reuters

(Reuters) – Shares in TSB rose sharply following its debut on the London Stock Exchange after Lloyds Banking Group sold more of the offshoot business than originally planned, raising the prospect of a further sale this year.

Lloyds said on Friday it had sold a 35 percent stake in TSB, Britain’s 7th-largest lender, at 260 pence a share. That valued the business at 1.3 billion pounds ($2.22 billion), less than the figure on Lloyds’ books.

The TSB share sale is another step on the recovery path for Lloyds following its 20 billion pound state bailout in 2008 and will help clear the way for the government to sell its remaining 25 percent Lloyds stake.

Lloyds was ordered to sell the 631 TSB branches by European regulators by the end of 2015 as a condition of the bailout, and initially planned to sell one quarter of the business.

TSB shares hit a high of 299.75 pence on Friday, up 15 percent on the initial public offering (IPO) price. That pushed the bank’s market value up to 1.5 billion pounds, or 0.95 times book value.

“Success here is helpful to Lloyds with a potential follow-on rally in the TSB shares encouraging the market to think about an exit closer to book value than had been feared,” said Deutsche Bank analyst Jason Napier.

Sources with knowledge of the transaction said the shares were 10 times oversubscribed, after attracting strong demand from British and U.S. investors and interest from Asia.

Lloyds said financial institutions such as pension funds and insurers and private retail investors had bought the TSB shares, which were priced above the mid-point of a range set earlier this month.

Thirty percent of the shares were sold to 60,000 retail investors with those that applied for up to 2,000 pounds worth of shares receiving their full amount.

Another 3.5 percent is expected be taken by JP Morgan Cazenove as part of its role as underwriter on the initial public offering (IPO).

MORE TO COME
Lloyds has agreed not to sell any more TSB shares for 90 days but the strong debut will increase the likelihood of the bank looking to offload its remaining stake significantly ahead of the end of 2015 deadline set by regulators.

It is expected to sell the remaining shares in two further stages, employing a similar strategy to that of Royal Bank of Scotland when it sold its Direct Line insurance business, with each tranche priced higher than the previous sale.

The next sale could happen as early as September, the sources said, although that may depend on whether the British government decides to sell more of its remaining 25 percent stake in Lloyds that month as the bank’s advisors would not want the two sales to compete against each other.

TSB’s valuation is lower than the 1.3 times net asset value at which Lloyds itself trades, but it is ahead of the 0.7 multiple of rivals Barclays and RBS based on their current share prices.

Although Lloyds made gross proceeds of 455 million pounds from the sale, Espirito Santo analyst Shailesh Raikundlia expects it to make a 98 million loss overall because the shares were sold at below book value.

The European Commission’s original sale deadline of November 2013 had to be extended after the collapse of a planned sale to the Co-operative Bank, which sparked a parliamentary inquiry and inflated the cost of the sale process to 1.6 billion pounds.

However, the price fetched by the IPO has far outstripped the 750 million pounds which Lloyds had agreed to sell the business to the Co-op for.

The success of the sale may encourage other UK banks considering stock market listings to go ahead. Banking sources say that fledgling lender Aldermore is considering a listing this year and that Virgin Money and Santander UK could float next year, followed by Williams & Glyn, which is being spun out of RBS, in 2016.

Lawmakers are keen for new challengers to break the dominance of Britain’s “Big Four” lenders, which also includes HSBC. The re-emergence of TSB after it disappeared from Britain’s high streets in the 1990s is expected to create a credible competitor. TSB has a head start over other new players, with 4.5 million customers and 6 percent of Britain’s bank branches.

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