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More Lloyds shares to be sold off

Another tranche of taxpayer shares in Lloyds Banking Group are to be sold off as the Government continues with plans to fully return the lender to the private sector.

Around 5.4 billion Lloyds shares will be sold to institutional investors, raising about £4.2 billion for the taxpayer based on today’s closing share price.

This will bring down the Government’s stake to 25% from 33% currently.

It is expected that a multibillion-pound shares offering to members of the public will go ahead later in the year.

A Treasury spokesman said: “The Government set out its objectives for its shareholdings in the banks in the Chancellor’s annual Mansion House address last June – getting the best value for the taxpayer, maximising support for the economy and restoring private ownership – and as set out in that address, the Government will only conclude a sale if these objectives are met.

“Building a stronger banking system is a core part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to deliver greater economic security.”

UK Financial Investments, which manages government stakes in bailed out banks, said the exact price of the share sale will be set as part of an overnight stock offering.

The sale is the second by the State after it sold off a 6% stake to institutional investors last September , raising £3.2 billion.

Antonio Horta-Osorio, chief executive of Lloyds, said: ” I am pleased that the Government intends to sell a further stake in Lloyds Banking Group and allow taxpayers to get more of their money back.

“I believe this reflects the hard work undertaken over the last three years to make Lloyds a safe and profitable bank that is focused on helping Britain prosper.”

The Treasury was left with a stake in Lloyds following its £20 billion rescue during the financial crisis, after it swallowed up troubled Halifax Bank of Scotland.

But turnaround efforts have seen shares hold steady above the 73.6p breakeven level – the average price paid by the Government when the bank was rescued.

Shares closed at 79.1p today.

Mr Horta-Osorio dubbed Lloyds ”a normal bank” last month after posting statutory profits of £ 415 million against losses of £606 million in 2012 – its first bottom line profit since 2010.

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