Saturday 24 February 2018

UK ready to sell last Lloyds stake


Andrew MacAskill and Lawrence White

The UK is set to sell its remaining stake in Lloyds Banking Group today, making the lender the first to re-emerge from British state ownership in a symbolic step for the country's recovering banking sector.

The sale will draw a line under one of the largest bailouts from the 2007-2009 global financial crisis.

This involved Lloyds, Britain's biggest retail lender, being rescued after an ill-fated government-brokered takeover of rival HBOS.

The takeover of HBOS in 2008 caused Lloyds to suffer more than £25bn in losses and the bank's subsequent rescue cost the British government more than £20bn and left it with a 43pc state shareholding.

This holding has gradually been sold back into the market over and now represents less than 1pc of Lloyds shares.

About half of the £137bn of direct cash injected into Britain's five bailed-out banks has so far been recovered.

Britain will make at least a £500m pound profit from its bailout of Lloyds, the bank's chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said last week.

Lloyds itself is set to announce the sale by UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which manages the government's holdings in banks it has rescued, on Wednesday, sources told Reuters.

UKFI and Lloyds declined to comment.

Lloyds has overhauled the way it is run since its bailout and a series of high-profile scandals, scaling back its global footprint and reducing its reliance on short-term funding.

The sale ends a lengthy, and at times politicised, government disposal of its stake that underscores Britain's banking industry's slow recovery from the crash. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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