The government has sold more shares in taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group, lowering its stake in the bank to below 20%.
£500 million has been returned to the taxpayer, meaning around £10 billion has now been recouped. At the height of the financial crisis, Lloyds received £20 billion and taxpayers took a 40% stake in the group.
Since December, UK Financial Investments has been gradually reducing the government’s stake in the business. The most recent sale cut the government’s stake in the bank to 19.93%, reducing its shareholding by 5% since the start of the year.
On the London Stock Exchange today, shares in the bank were flat one hour into trading at 86.57p.
In opposition, the fortunes of the bank of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was also rescued by taxpayer during the financial crisis, however appears to not be ready for private ownership.
RBS reported a loss of £446 million for the three months to 31 March after setting aside £856 million for charges. They also saved £453 million for restructuring costs following the sale of its US bank, Citizens. RBS is still 80% taxpayer-owned.
This compared with a profit of £1.2 billion last year when they had fewer one-off costs. In comparison, Lloyds said that in February it would continue paying dividends to shareholders for the first time since 2008, when the financial crisis hit. It reported full-year statutory profits of £1.8 billion.
Lloyds said they would pay a dividend of 0.75 pence per share, which would amount to £535 million to be split between the bank’s three million shareholders. The government at £130 million owns the largest amount or Lloyds shares.