Saturday 24 February 2018

UK raises £3.2bn from sale of Lloyds bank stake

BRITAIN has raised £3.2bn (€3.8bn) from the sale of a 6pc stake in Lloyds Banking Group, marking a milestone in the economy's recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.

Britain pumped a combined £66bn into Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland in 2008, leaving it with a 39pc shareholding in Lloyds and an 81pc stake in RBS.

The country's Conservative-led coalition government sees the sale as an important step in its plan to recover taxpayers money and repair the UK economy and the disposal - plans for which were announced late on Monday - will be a boost to the Conservatives ahead of their annual party conference later in September.

"This is another step in the long journey in putting right what went so badly wrong in the British economy," Finance Minister George Osborne said on Tuesday. "It's another step in repairing the banks, it's another step in getting the money back for the taxpayer, and it's another step in reducing our national debt."

The stock was sold to unnamed investment institutions at 75p per share, a 3pc discount to Lloyds' closing price on Monday and ahead of the government's average buy-in price of 73.6p, meaning the government will make a profit of £61m pounds.

The sale will reduce the government's debt by £586m, as the shares were on its books at 61.2p, taking into account fees already repaid by Lloyds.

Analyst Jo Dickerson at brokerage Jefferies said the sale "was unequivocally positive" for both Lloyds and RBS.

"The simple manner in which the shares were placed will no doubt be welcomed by investors. We can only hope that the rest of the government's stake in Lloyds and RBS is disposed of in such an effective manner," he said.

UK Financial Investments (UKFI), the body which is in charge of managing the state's holdings in the two banks, sold the shares to financial institutions after Monday's London market close through a fast track process known as an accelerated bookbuild.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Cazenove and UBS Investment Bank were joint book runners. Lazard acted as capital advisor.

The sale was 2.8 times covered by demand from investors, a source with direct knowledge of the transaction told Reuters.

The government's stake in Lloyds will be reduced to 32.7pc from 38.7pc. It has agreed not to sell any more shares in the bank for 90 days.



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