UK government sells Lloyds Banking Group shares,cuts its holding to under 25%

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UK government sells Lloyds Banking Group shares,cuts its holding to under 25%

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Britain’s government has sold 4.2 billion pounds worth of shares in Lloyds Banking Group – raising the equivalent of five billion euros.

Its stake in the UK’s largest retail bank is now just under 25 percent.

Finance Minister George Osborne called the sale “good value for the taxpayer”.

The government stands to make a small profit on the 20 billion pounds used to prevent Lloyds collapsing in 2009.

It is expected to try to sell its entire stake before the general election in May next year.

The next sale is expected to include an offer to retail investors, which sources familiar with the matter said will be easier to do once there is greater clarity over the prospects for Lloyds resuming dividend payments.

UK Financial Investments, the body that manages the government’s stakes in both Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, said on Wednesday it sold a 7.8 percent stake in Lloyds, or 5.6 billion shares, at 75.5 pence a share.

Britain began to offload its 39 percent holding in Lloyds last September, when shares were sold at 75p apiece.

That was seen as a milestone in the country’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. After that taxpayers pumped a combined 66 billion pounds into Lloyds and RBS.

The sale is a vindication for Lloyds’ chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio, who has restored the bank to profitability since his appointment in 2011, simplifying the business to focus on lending to UK households and businesses.