Lloyds: who needs asset insurance?

August 10, 2009

Lloyds Banking Group is weighing up if it needs to take part in the UK government’s asset protection scheme (APS). The plan, described as “catastrophe insurance” to protect Lloyds and RBS from losses above a certain amount, may no longer be in Lloyds’ best interests and it is considering options, according to reports.

On pure financials, a rights issue could be better for shareholders. Credit Suisse analysts estimate the APS must payout 9 billion pounds for the scheme to breakeven for Lloyds, equivalent to further asset losses of about 9 percent. “On this basis we think there are grounds for Lloyds to reconsider its accession to APS,” the analysts say.

But that doesn’t mean shareholders would be better off without APS. Lloyds would probably have to raise at least 15 billion pounds to provide a capital cushion to satisfy regulators, which could be difficult.

As with all insurance, the policyholder may not make money, but “it caps unexpected losses and that is arguably worth a lot in this environment,” the Credit Suisse analysts say.

And lastly, Lloyds could have to pay for the insurance support provided already — potentially at a cost of about 1.5 billion pounds.

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