Public stake in Lloyds falls below 4%

Public stake in Lloyds falls below 4%

The latest government share sale has reduced the taxpayer’s stake in Lloyds to less than 4 per cent, HM Treasury has announced.

Including share sales and dividends, this means that the government has now recouped more than £19bn of the original £20.3bn bail-out, which took place during the financial crisis.

At the time, this investment amounted to a 43 per cent share of the banking group.

“Since the decision to sell the government’s stake in Lloyds we have now recovered over £19bn for the taxpayer,” said Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby.

“Lloyds’ strong annual results show that we are in a good position to continue to reduce our shareholding and recover all of the money the tax-payer injected into the bank during the financial crisis.”

In accordance with Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules, Lloyds Banking Group is required to announce any share activity which changes shareholder interest by more than one per cent.

Before the latest share sale, the government’s stake was believed to have been between four per cent and five per cent.   

The share sale is part of the Treasury’s ongoing trading plan which involves the gradual selling of shares in the market over time.

It Initially ran from 17 December 2014 to 31 June 2016, before being extended indefinitely on 7 October 2016.

Last month, the government announced that it was no longer the bank’s biggest shareholder with BlackRock taking that title, essentially returning Lloyds to the private sector.

Yesterday, the bank announced that its pre-tax profits increased by 158 per cent last year, hitting £4.2bn from the £1.6bn posted back in 2015.

As a result, Lloyds staff were awarded an 11 per cent increase in their annual bonus. Group chief executive António Horta-Osório said that the robust performance was "inextricably linked” to the health of the UK economy.