Belfast Telegraph

Lloyds returns to private ownership after bailout at height of financial crisis

By Ben Woods

Lloyds Banking Group has been fully returned to private hands nearly nine years after the Government bailed out the lender at the height of the financial meltdown, sources have said.

The high street bank said last week that the Government's stake had been reduced to 0.25% and the UK taxpayer was set to make at least a £500m profit from the final sale.

It is understood the Government's final tranche of Lloyds shares have now been sold, with an official announcement set to be made when the regulatory news service opens at 7am today.

Speaking at the bank's annual general meeting last week, chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said a return to private ownership represented a "major milestone" in efforts to turn the bank around from the "crisis" it faced a few years ago. He added 2016 had been a significant year for the group as the Government reduced its shareholding.

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 news comes weeks after ministers announced they had recouped all the cash.

Mr Horta-Osorio 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 added.

Belfast Telegraph

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