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Treasury offloads remaining shares

Taxpayer refunded as Lloyds back in private ownership

Antonio Horta-Osorio Youtube
Antonio Horta-Osorio

The Treasury today sold the remaining shares in Lloyds Bank that it held on behalf of the taxpayer, making a near-£1 billion profit.

It marks the bank’s full return to private ownership almost a decade after it was bailed out by the then Chancellor Alistair Darling following its catastrophic takeover of HBOS.

Lloyds said: “Lloyds Banking Group welcomes the news today that the government has sold its remaining stake, returning the Group to full private ownership.

“The sale has returned £21.2bn to the taxpayer, £894m more than the initial investment, including over £400m in dividends.”

Today’s sale of 638,437,059 shares was handled by UK Financial Investments, the body appointed to control the taxpayer stakes in the banks.

Lloyds chief executive António Horta-Osório, who has been paid about £25m in the six years since he took over at the UK bank, said: “Today the government has sold its last shares in Lloyds Banking Group, receiving more money than was originally invested.

“Six years ago we inherited a business that was in a very fragile financial condition. Thanks to the hard work of everyone at Lloyds, we’ve turned the group around.”

Analysts say there is no prospect of Royal Bank of Scotland following Lloyds any time soon. It continues to be 73% owned by the taxpayer and its shares trade at about half their break even price.

RBS is held back by outstanding legacy issues and is awaiting legal verdicts at home and in the US. The bank will be in court next Monday to face allegations that its former directors misled shareholders in a £12bn cash call in 2008.

Shares in Lloyds Banking Group edged up 0.76% to 70.68p in early trade.

Comment: Terry Murden asks who is buying Lloyds shares

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