Lloyds Banking Group Raises 520 Million Pounds Following St James's Place Share Disposal

LONDON -- The shares of Lloyds Banking  (LSE: LLOY  )   (NYSE: LYG  ) climbed 1p to 51p during early London trade this morning after the bank said it had raised £520m following the sale of part of its stake in St James's Place  (LSE: STJ  ) .

Lloyds said it had sold 101 million shares at 510 pence and would retain its remaining 186 million shares for at least another 12 months.

The shares of St James's Place fell 17 pence, or 3%, to 520 pence during early trade.

Lloyds claimed the disposal would realize a 400 million-pound accounting gain and would improve the group's core tier 1 capital by approximately 600 million pounds.

The bank also calculated the sale would improve the group's net tangible assets per share by 1.7 pence per share. Annual results published earlier this month showed Lloyds boasting net tangible assets of 54.9 pence per share.

This morning's Lloyds share price could therefore represent 90% of the strengthened balance sheet.

Lloyds confirmed the share placing reflected its strategy to simplify the group and focus on its core customer franchise. It added the proceeds would be used for "general corporate purposes."

Lloyds acquired its stake in St James's Place, a financial services group and member of the FTSE 250 index, as part of the ill-fated merger with HBOS during the 2008-9 banking crash.

St James's Place retains a network of financial advisors that serve 140,000 clients and manages some 35 billion pounds of customer money.

The mid-cap has seen its shares recover with the wider market during the last few years, with the price rallying 66% since last May. Indeed, the firm's annual results published last month revealed a dividend lifted 33% for the third consecutive year and confirmation of a repeat increase for 2013.

Of course, whether the disposal means Lloyds shares are now a buy and St James's Place shares are now a sell -- or vice versa -- remains up to you to decide.

However, if you already own shares in Lloyds or St James's Place and are looking for an attractive investment idea outside of the financial sector, this free special report covers a tip-top growth opportunity.

Indeed, the blue chip in question has lifted its earnings per share by 44% since 2009, owns subsidiaries that might carry considerable hidden value -- and has just been declared "The Motley Fool's Top Growth Stock for 2013."

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