Lloyds Banking Group’s (LON:LLOY) former chairman has defended the lender’s acquisition of HBOS, The Times has reported. Sir Victor Blank’s comments came as he gave evidence in an ongoing trial, brought by shareholders suing the bailed-out lender over the £8-billion takeover.
Lloyds’ share price has fallen deep into the red in today’s session, having given up 1.15 percent to 66.33p. The stock is underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.17 percent lower at 7,381.21 points.
HBOS deal ‘in the interests’ of shareholders
The Times reported this morning that giving evidence at the ongoing shareholder trial, Lloyds’ former chairman Sir Victor Blank had denied that the bank’s board had come under pressure from the Labour government to buy HBOS in late 2008 during the financial crisis, noting that directors had not been a ‘pushover’.
“Let me be absolutely clear that I and the other members of the board entered into the takeover of HBOS in the interests of Lloyds shareholders,” he pointed out.
The Lloyds shareholder action group is suing the lender in an ongoing trial, arguing that information about lifelines provided to HBOS from the Bank of England and Federal Reserve was not disclosed at the time they were asked to vote on the transaction.
Lloyds’ former chairman further argued that any bad loan losses on HBOS’s books were ‘manageable,’ and insisted that buying the bank had been the right decision for Lloyds.
“I am absolutely clear how the board made their decision and it was in the best interests of Lloyds shareholders,” he pointed out, as quoted by The Times.
The trial is set to run until the beginning of March. Lloyds is contesting the action.