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Government reduces stake in Lloyds Banking Group to below 12%


Lloyds Banking Group has resumed payments of shareholder dividends

Lloyds Banking Group has resumed payments of shareholder dividends

Lloyds Banking Group has resumed payments of shareholder dividends

The taxpayer stake in bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group has fallen below 12% after the Government sold another 1% chunk of the lender.

It means the Government has now recouped £15 billion of the £20.5 billion spent rescuing Lloyds at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

The Treasury has reduced its stake from 24.9% when it announced a trading plan in December to sell shares gradually into the market. It now stands at 11.98%.

Chancellor George Osborne said it was "fantastic news".

He added: "I am determined to build on this success, and to continue to return Lloyds to the private sector and reduce our national debt."

A Lloyds spokesman said: "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.

"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."

The total paid for the latest 1% chunk was not disclosed, but at market prices it is worth around £500 million. The current trading plan will end no later than December 31.

Lloyds has resumed payments of shareholder dividends, with full-year and half-year payouts announced earlier this year, and has said that as it continues its recovery it will consider using spare capital to distribute additional special dividends.

This is expected to make the stock more attractive for a "Tell Sid"-style sell-off to ordinary retail investors that is being planned, likely to come at the end of the current trading plan.

However the share price has fallen steeply over the last few months. From reaching nearly 90p in June, shares were worth just 73.8p at the close of the last session, only just above the 73.6p price the Government paid for them.

They were as low as 71.6p earlier this month, with markets hit by turbulence amid fears over the global economy.

Chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said in July that Lloyds was on course to be fully privatised over the next year.

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