LONDON – The British government announced Monday that it is selling part of its stake in the Lloyds Banking Group.
The decision to sell 6 percent of the bank’s shares comes five years after Lloyds received a multibillion-dollar bailout from taxpayers and is an effort to take advantage of the firm’s improving fortunes since the financial crisis.
The share sale, valued at 3.2 billion pounds ($5.1 billion) at Lloyds’ current share price, would reduce the British government’s holding in the bank to 33 percent from about 39 percent.
Analysts expect United Kingdom Financial Investments, the British agency in charge of managing the holdings in the country’s bailed-out banks, to progressively sell down its stakes in Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland over the coming years. George Osbourne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, announced earlier this year that the government was considering reducing its stake in Lloyds, which has benefited from Britain’s improving economy.
The share sale would represent a victory for the current British government and allow local taxpayers to profit from Lloyds’ return to profitability. The proceeds would mirror similar returns that the U.S. government has garnered after bailing out some of its largest financial institutions during the crisis.
Lloyds, whose share price has risen 93 percent over the last 12 months, has shed many of its so-called non-core assets and has refocused on lending to British customers. The bank’s second-quarter profit more than doubled, to $2.1 billion, and its current share price is above the 74 pence-a-share break-even price that the British government paid for its original holding.
New York Times