Business

Lloyds share sale cuts government stake to 21%

Lloyds bank ATMs Image copyright PA

The government has sold more shares in Lloyds, raising about £586m and taking its stake in the bank to below 21%.

The government originally owned a 41% stake after ploughing £20bn into the bank during the 2008 financial crisis.

It started selling Lloyds shares in 2013, and the latest sale means it has now raised more than £8bn.

Last weekend, David Cameron said the Conservatives would offer up to £4bn of Lloyds shares to private investors if he won the general election.

The prime minister said it would "help us recover billions more to pay down the national debt". The Labour party said the Tories had announced the plans several times before.

'Progress'

In the latest sale, the government sold 742 million shares which, at Thursday's closing price, would have raised £586m for the Treasury. The actual total may be slightly lower as the government would have sold its shares throughout the day, during which Lloyds shares rose steadily in the afternoon to hit a closing high of 78.99 pence.

The sale means the government's shareholding has been reduced by another 1%, and is now down to 20.95%.

"Today's announcement shows the further progress made in returning Lloyds Banking Group to full private ownership and enabling the taxpayer to get their money back," a statement from Lloyds said.

"This reflects the hard work undertaken over the last four years to transform the group into a simple, low-risk and customer-focused bank that is committed to helping Britain prosper."

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