Business

Lloyds retail share sale confirmed 'in next 12 months'

LLoyds Bank Image copyright PA
Image caption The Treasury has confirmed it is planning to sell shares to retail investors

The government has confirmed that it will launch a Lloyds share sale to the public "in the next 12 months".

"Further details will be set out in due course," the Treasury added.

Mr Osborne has previously pledged to make some Lloyds shares available to small investors - at a discount to the market price - as part of the share sell-off.

The government also said it would extend its plan to sell off shares in Lloyds to the end of the year.

The scheme, which is gradually selling off Lloyds shares to big institutional investors, was originally due to finish at the end of June, but will now be extended to the 31 December.

The Treasury said the extra six months would help it meet Chancellor George Osborne's pledge to sell a further £9bn of Lloyds shares in 2015-16.

The extension of the sale, together with the sale of shares to the public, could mean that the bank is back in private hands within a year.

The government has long made it clear that it wants retail investors to have the opportunity to buy shares in the bank, evoking memories of big privatisations, such as British Gas's £3.9bn share sell-off and British Telecom's £5.6bn sell-off in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

In the lead-up to the election, Mr Osborne said retail investors would be able to buy between £250 and £10,000 worth of Lloyds shares, with priority going to those wanting to buy up to £1,000 of shares, to enable as many investors as possible to buy shares.

Stake reduced

The government also announced on Monday that it had sold a further 1% of shares in the bank, taking its stake below 19%.

The government originally owned a 41% stake in the bank after ploughing £20bn into the bank during the 2008 financial crisis.

It started selling Lloyds shares in 2013, and the latest sale means it has now raised more than £10.5bn.

Mr Osborne said the share sell-off so far had been a "huge success" and said that extending the programme would help it to return more money to the taxpayer and help to reduce the national debt.

Lloyds Banking Group's share price ended the day 1% higher at nearly 89p.

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