Belfast Telegraph

Government to pocket at least £500m from deal to bail out Lloyds

By Hilary Duncanson

The Government is expected to make a profit of at least £500m from its bailout of Lloyds Banking Group, shareholders have been told.

Bosses at Lloyds' annual general meeting (AGM) in Edinburgh confirmed the State's stake in the organisation stood at 0.25%, meaning the group's return to full private ownership is "just days away".

Chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio described the development as a "major milestone" in efforts to turn the banking firm around from the disaster it faced a few years ago.

At its peak, Lloyds was 43% owned by the State after the Government spent £20.3bn of taxpayers' cash to bail it out at the height of the financial crisis.

The AGM came just weeks after ministers announced they had recouped all of the £20.3bn ploughed in.

Addressing shareholders at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Mr Horta-Osorio said: "2016 was also a significant year for the group as the Government substantially reduced its shareholding.

"We are now just days away from a major milestone as the group returns to full private ownership.

"We take great pride in the fact that the Government has already received more than its original investment of £20.3bn.

"With further proceeds to come as the sale is completed, this will ensure that taxpayers get back at least £500m more than was originally put in."

The chief executive told the gathering the business had been turned around from the time when it acquired £200bn of toxic assets from its takeover of HBOS and also had a "significant" PPI problem.

"Looking at the group now, it is perhaps easy to lose sight of the fact that just six years ago this was a bank in crisis," he said.

Belfast Telegraph