U.K. Government Sells Final Stake in Lloyds Banking Group

The British government is no longer a shareholder in Lloyds Banking Group. CreditPeter Nicholls/Reuters

 

LONDON — Nearly nine years after a government bailout during the financial crisis, the Lloyds Banking Group is fully private again.

Lloyds — one of Britain’s four largest lenders — said on Wednesday that it had returned to private ownership after the British government sold its final stake.

The sale is a major milestone for Lloyds and comes five months after the lender made a big bet on the British economy, agreeing to buy Bank of America’s British credit card business for about $2.4 billion.

The British government owned 43 percent of Lloyds after it injected 20.3 billion pounds, or $26.2 billion at current exchange rates, into the lender. Including £400 million in dividends, taxpayers recouped £21.2 billion, the bank said.

Under his leadership, Lloyds has aggressively cut costs, eliminated thousands of jobs, shrunk its ambitions outside Britain and sold off a variety of businesses. Like many of its peers, it has also bolstered its capital to shore up its balance sheet.

In 2014, it spun out TSB Banking Group, a move required by European regulators as a condition of the bailout.

In 2015, Lloyds began paying a dividend to investors for the first time since the crisis.

While the bank’s financial health has improved, Lloyds has still faced several hurdles related to its past conduct.