Lloyds Banking Group (LYG, LLOY.L) unveiled early on Monday a new “lending commitment” of 18 billion pounds ($23.6 billion) for British firms, extending support to the UK’s economy before talks begin on a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union.
Apart from supporting mid-sized businesses and large, multinational corporations seeking further growth, the funding will support entrepreneurs looking to start a new business, micro-firms seeking to scale up and small companies looking to trade globally for the first time, Lloyd’s Bank said in a statement.
The new commitment for 2020 extends the group’s pledge last year, also for the same amount of lending, and precedes the UK’s negotiations with the European Union for a trade deal by the end of December, an ambitious goal in the eyes of the European Union, whose president Ursula von der Leyen will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday for talks of pos-Brexit future.
Von der Leyen is likely to advise Johnson — and has said publicly on previous occasions — that an extension to the transition period will be needed to reach a comprehensive trade deal, an idea that is anathema to the British prime minister’s electoral base and goes against his campaign promises during the recent general election that the ruling Conservative party won with a landslide.
“We know that during uncertain times our customers look to us not just for financial support but also for expert guidance to navigate the challenges they may face,” Chief Executive Officer Antonio Horta Osorio said in the statement. “Whatever the future brings, we will continue to support UK businesses.”
To support customers on their sustainability journey, Lloyd’s Bank said more than 450 relationship managers have undertaken intensive training on climate change and sustainability-related risks and opportunities in collaboration with Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership.
The Brtish pound strengthened by 0.6% against the dollar to $1.3164 following the escalation of tensions between the US and Iran following the killing of Major-General Qassem Soleimani in a drone attack on Friday in Bagdad.
The pound, which had touched $1.35 following the Conservative Party’s resounding electoral victory has since given back some of its gains after Johnson signaled Britain would leave the European Union by the end of 2020 with or without a trade deal even though his plan is to seek one within this timeframe.