Lloyds just got permission to stop paying certain bond investors potentially billions of pounds

AntonioGettyLloyds CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio has a lot to smile about.

Lloyds Banking Group just got permission to stop paying investors potentially billions of pounds worth of returns from a type of investor bond that helped keep it afloat during the credit crisis.

Lloyds received £20.5 billion in state handouts between 2008 and 2009 following the credit crisis. In return, the government took a 43.4% ownership stake in the bank at the time. It then sold “Enhanced Capital Notes,” or ECNs to retail investors when the bank needed more cash instead of going back to the government cap in hand.

Investors loved the bonds because they paid a massive 12% interest. Most interest-bearing investor products are near zero or 1% interest right now.

However, Lloyds confirmed in a regulatory statement today that it “received

permission” from the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) to redeem a certain series of ECNs. This means that if you hold the following types of ECNs, Lloyds will be able to stop payouts and of course stop investors receiving returns from the financial product.

In December 2014, Lloyds announced that it wanted to buy back or exchange a bulk of ECNs for up to £8.4 billion. Now Lloyds is aiming to give ECN holders just 128.5p per bond, with an annual interest rate of 16.125%. This is dramatically less than the 175p they were worth before Lloyds issued its first warning. The Financial Times said in 2014 that Lloyds was in a position to save £2 billion in the manoeuvre.

It is not known exactly how much Lloyds will save and investors will lose from the redemption of the selected ECNs above. However, it could be worth up to £2 billion in lost return.

This is the full statement from Lloyds today:

Further to the RNS dated 16 December 2014, Lloyds Banking Group (the Group) has received permission under Article 78 of the Capital Requirements Regulation (Regulation 575/2013/EU) from the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) for the redemption of certain series of ECNs (listed in the appendix).

The Group has also been notified by BNY Mellon Corporate Trustee Services Limited, the Trustee in respect of the ECNs, that it will seek a declaratory judgment (following an instruction from certain bondholders), in respect of the interpretation of certain terms of the ECNs. The Group will work with the Trustee to seek an expedited process and, on the basis of such, has decided to defer exercising the redemption of these ECNs for the time-being.

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