Britain pockets $6.4b from selling 6% of Lloyds bank

A Lloyds Bank sign is seen reflected in a window in central London on May 13, 2013. The British government earned 3.2 billion pounds (S$6.4 billion) from selling 6 per cent of Lloyds Banking Group, it announced on Tuesday,  Sept 17, 2013, p
A Lloyds Bank sign is seen reflected in a window in central London on May 13, 2013. The British government earned 3.2 billion pounds (S$6.4 billion) from selling 6 per cent of Lloyds Banking Group, it announced on Tuesday,  Sept 17, 2013, placing the part-nationalised lender on course for a full return to the private sector. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - The British government earned 3.2 billion pounds (S$6.4 billion) from selling 6 per cent of Lloyds Banking Group, it announced on Tuesday, placing the part-nationalised lender on course for a full return to the private sector.

The coalition government on Monday launched plans to sell part of its stake in bailed-out Lloyds after a recent upturn in the bank's fortunes following its rescue at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008.

UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which manages the government's stake, said about 3.211 billion pounds was earned from the sale of Lloyds shares priced at 75 pence each to institutional investors. The government had said it needed 63.1 pence a share to break even following the bank's hefty bailout.

"Further to its announcement on 16 September 2013, UKFI announces the successful completion of the disposal of part of HM Treasury's shareholding in Lloyds Banking Group," a statement said.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government's stake in Lloyds has, in turn, dropped to about 32.7 per cent from 38.7 per cent.

The government is hoping to eventually recoup 20 billion pounds of taxpayers' cash ploughed into the group created by a merger of Lloyds TSB and rival British lender HBOS amid the crisis. With HBOS at the time saddled with high-risk property investments, Lloyds subsequently received a vast state bailout under the then-Labour administration.

British finance minister George Osborne, a member of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party, authorised Monday's part sale. It comes after Lloyds, whose chief executive is Portuguese national Antonio Horta-Osorio, revealed last month that it had bounced into profit and was looking to resume shareholder dividend payments.

Mr Horta-Osorio on Monday said he was "pleased" the government had begun the process of selling its stake.