Lloyds won't truly rehabilitate until it pays its dividends

The boss of Lloyds Banking Group is trying hard to sound boring.

"A simple, low risk bank" is the the way Antonio Horta-Osorio wants Lloyds to be seen. Unremarkable, safe, normal.

He's not quite there yet but all the arrows are continuing to point in the right direction.

This morning Lloyds announced a lower but healthy profit figure (on pre-tax basis), lower impairments, growth in business lending and no additional provisions for Payment Protection Insurance compensation.

Lloyds announced a lower but healthy profit figure today. Credit: REUTERS/Olivia Harris

Remember Lloyds is in the process of handing £10 billion to customers who it concedes it treated rather badly. The stream of claims is thinning, this is another sign that the worst is finally over. "Never say never" is the bank's more cautious view.

Mr Osorio sees resurgent house prices a a sign of rude economic health and heaped more praise on George Osborne's Help To Buy scheme "it has had a very significant impact on confidence in the economy".

No reason to doubt his sincerity and it's a surefire way of keeping your largest shareholder happy. The taxpayer stake stands at 25% and shrinking.

Shareholders aren't likely to see any cash before May 2015. Credit: REUTERS/Darren Staples

Mr Osorio is relaxed about the forthcoming stress tests (Lloyds mortgage book is about to be put through its paces) and said we'll hear in the next eight weeks when the TSB branches (the ones Co-op was going to buy) will finally list on the stock market.

So the recovery continues, in every sense. But Lloyds will not be considered truly rehabilitated until it starts paying dividends once again.

Shareholders aren't likely to see any cash before May next year, by which time of course the government intends to have sold its last remaining shares.