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Hyperactive, yet passive
The Lloyds-HBOS affair
An unhappy financial marriage is examined in court
LLOYDS TSB was boring and stodgy—the slow and steady tortoise of British banking. HBOS fancied itself as racy and exciting but, when it blew up in 2008, needed a rescuer. Waiving the usual competition rules, the government steered HBOS into the arms of Lloyds. An initial bail-out of £17 billion ($31 billion) left the government holding a 43.4% stake in the combined company. It also held £4 billion of preference shares and tried to charge Lloyds a £16-billion fee for insuring its balance-sheet. The newly renamed Lloyds Banking Group subsequently issued £13.5 billion in new shares to buy its way out of the latter two entanglements.
A lawsuit working its way through the High Court has shone new light upon the events of 2008. By gobbling up HBOS, Lloyds TSB’s management created Britain’s largest banking …