by Louise Nousratpour
Part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group has announced that it was back in profit, with the government's shares now reported to be worth £2 billion more than the Treasury paid for them.
Lloyds, which is 41 per cent owned by the taxpayer, said "positive trends" in its business and wider economy helped it return to profit in the first quarter.
The group did not provide a profit figure, but news that it clawed out of the red marks a significant turnaround on the £6.3 billion losses reported for 2009 after the HBOS takeover and credit crunch left Lloyds with £24bn in bad debts.
The Guardian claimed that the taxpayer stood to gain a total paper profit of £10bn following surprise increases in share prices at Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 84 per cent state-owned.
Left Economics Advisory Panel co-ordinator Andrew Fisher said that Lloyd's profit announcement had made the case for nationalising the lucrative banking system and using the gains to plug the massive deficit rather than slashing public services.
Speaking while on the campaign trail for west London Labour MP John McDonnell, he said: "If we had properly nationalised these bailed-out banks in the first place, any profits would have gone straight into the Exchequer rather than remain as paper profit."
Lloyds has come under fire for offering huge bonuses to chief executive Eric Daniels.
He stands to reap a potential £6.2 million in salary and options for 2010 if the bank meets a series of targets.