Either a period of relative stability for Lloyds Banking Group, or uncertainty over the outlook for the UK mortgage market, seems to have given some of its directors the confidence to sell sizeable bundles of shares in recent days, clearly as the post-results lock-in period expired.
First up is the head of Scottish Widows, and group director of insurance, pensions & investments, Antonio Lorenzo. Lorenzo, who originally joined Lloyds from Santander, sold about £1.2mn worth of shares — approximately 2.75mn at 44.8p a share. Whether these were vesting options or personal holdings is not clear. Lorenzo runs the now strategically important wealth management division for Lloyds, which the bank is relying upon as it tries to diversify its business revenues away from the UK mortgage market.
He was joined in the summer sale by Lloyds’ interim chief operating officer David Oldfield, a company lifer who began his career with the bank in 1984. As well as the interim role, he currently oversees the bank’s commercial lending arm. Oldfield sold a more modest £500,000 worth of shares.
On balance, it is probably worth considering the general prospects for Lloyd’s before jumping to any conclusions. The last set of results showed that the bank is clearly floating on an upward trend when it comes to interest rates, with net interest margins only set to widen given how aggressively the Bank of England is now signalling its inflation-fighting intentions. With such a mature and dominant business, there is no sign that the shares will move quickly in either direction, so locking profits from vesting options has a certain logic.
Purplebricks chair builds up holding
Purplebricks chair Paul Pindar has increased his stake in the online estate agency following a disappointing set of results after its ninth-largest shareholder called for him to resign.
Paul Pindar and his wife Sharon now own 4.59 per cent of the company after he bought a further £369,000 worth of shares on August 2. The decision to increase his exposure to the business came on the same day that the company posted a £42mn net loss for the year to April 30. Instructions have dropped by 31 per cent and revenue has fallen 23 per cent, with chief executive Helen Marston describing the performance as “not good enough”.
The value of Purplebricks shares dropped by 7 per cent on the morning of the results but have since rallied to their highest level in two months as activist investor Lecram Holdings maintains its call for Pindar to step down over his handling of the company.
Lecram currently owns a 4.2 per cent stake in Purplebricks. Glenn Cooper, chair of Harrier Capital, an adviser to Lecram, said that while it was encouraged by plans developed by Marston and the firm’s chief financial officer Steve Long to turn the business around, “we wonder why it has taken so long to act”.
“[We] are concerned at the lack of market experience at board level, and the fact that the chair who presided over this terrible performance is still at the helm of the company,” Cooper said.
This week, chief executive Marston also signalled her support for the business, buying up £100,000 in shares, worth 0.21 per cent of the business. The Pindar family remains the biggest shareholders connected to the board, with the other major owners including investors such as German media giant Axel Springer, which owns 26.5 per cent, and JNE Partners with almost 11 per cent.