Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 13:57 UK

Lloyds faces ire of shareholders

Protester Scarlett Gowan demonstrates with horses Teddy and Little Jack outside the SECC in Glasgow
A black horse and a Shetland pony were paraded by campaigners

Lloyds Banking Group shareholders are venting their anger over the merger with HBOS at the bank's annual meeting.

Although investors approved the takeover, some shareholders are exploring grounds for legal action against Lloyds directors.

Sir Victor Blank, Lloyd's chairman, is up for re-election to the bank's board despite heavy criticism.

But he is expected to survive the shareholder vote after saying he would step down by June 2010.

UK Financial Investments, the body that manages the taxpayer's stakes in nationalised lenders and Lloyds' biggest shareholder, said on Tuesday it would vote in favour of Sir Victor's re-election.

However, some independent shareholders may not toe the line.

'Paying the price'

Sir Victor faced questions about the impact that HBOS has had on Lloyds TSB at the meeting in Glasgow.

Gillian Marles, BBC Scotland business reporter:
A black horse and a Shetland pony were paraded outside the exhibition centre where Lloyds shareholders met for the group's AGM.
The campaigners of the Lloyds Action Now group are looking at the possibility of taking legal action against the bank's directors.

Campaigners said the black horse represented Lloyds when it was at the height of its power in 2008.

The Shetland pony, they said, showed how badly weakened and cut down the group now was following its disastrous takeover of HBOS.

"I think they pushed the whole thing through too quickly and now we're paying the price," Lloyds shareholder Jim Macintyre told the Reuters news agency.

"To some extent it was forced on them," he added.

More than 500 shareholders attended the AGM.

Shareholder Barry Gorman also was critical of the deal:

"How can anyone who is supposed to be a banker, enter a fire sale with Westminster only to find a week later when the accountants have a look at it, they've been sold a three-legged pup, and a £12bn one at that," he told the BBC.

Sir Victor and Lloyds' chief executive, Eric Daniels, have faced criticism for their decision last year to buy HBOS, the troubled owner of Halifax.

HBOS made £10bn of losses last year and Lloyds has put £260bn worth of toxic assets, mostly from HBOS, into a government-backed insurance scheme.

Pension pressure

Friday is also the day by which shareholders must decide whether they want to invest more money in the bank via a share issue.

If they snub the offering, the government's stake in Lloyds could rise from 43.4% to 65%. However, the recent surge in Lloyd's share price has made the discounted offer more attractive.

The results of the vote are expected next week.

A group called Lloyds Action Now set up to find ways to recover shareholders' losses as a result of the takeover will be launched at the meeting.

"Lloyds TSB shareholders are rightly furious at the way their company has been mismanaged by the board and the failure of professional advisors to discover the true state of the HBOS accounts at a time when its exposure to mortgage debt was a matter of public knowledge," the group said.

Lloyds is also likely to face pressure over its pension scheme.

The biggest union in Lloyds has demanded the bank provide a written guarantee it will keep open its final salary pension for the scheme's existing 30,000 members, the Financial Times reported.

The report comes after Barclays closed its final salary pension scheme to existing members.

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