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Lloyds shares 'will still be sold to public in 2016-17'

Published 17/05/2016

Shares in Lloyds Banking Group will still be sold to the public this year
Shares in Lloyds Banking Group will still be sold to the public this year

Shares in Lloyds Banking Group will still be sold to the public this financial year despite Chancellor George Osborne's move to postpone a retail offering in January amid stock market turmoil.

Harriett Baldwin, economic secretary to the Treasury, confirmed the plans in a statement made as taxpayer-backed Lloyds made another £130 million dividend payment to the Government, taking the total to £318 million.

She said she was "determined" the Government will make Lloyds shares available to the public this year, with a full return to the private sector in 2016-17.

The Government had hoped to sell at least £2 billion of shares to retail investors this spring.

But t he hotly-anticipated share sale was put on ice at the start of the year, with Mr Osborne blaming "turbulent markets" as stocks tumbled due to an oil and commodity price rout.

Ms Baldwin said: "The Government has already recovered over 80% of its original investment in Lloyds and today's dividend payment takes the amount we've recovered from the bank to over £16.8 billion.

"I am determined to build on this success by making Lloyds shares available to the public this year, so that we can build a share-owning democracy and continue to reduce our national debt."

Taxpayers still own just over 9% of Lloyds, down from 43% initially after it was bailed out with £20.5 billion of taxpayer cash at the height of the financial crisis.

But the Government will only sell the shares when the stock rises above the 73.6p break-even level at which Lloyds was bailed out.

The London market has regained its poise in recent weeks as oil prices have begun bouncing back, although shares in Lloyds remain below the break-even price - at just over 67p at the time of writing.

The lender announced on reporting annual results in February that it would pay out £2 billion in shareholder dividends, despite posting a 7% fall in statutory pre-tax profits to £1.64 billion after taking a £2.1 billion hit from the payment protection insurance scandal.

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