British government plans to sell rest of its stake in Lloyds soon

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LONDON (April 21): Taxpayers have recouped all of the £20.3 billion (US$26 billion) invested in the bailout of Lloyds Banking Group during the 2008 financial crisis, British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Friday.

The government has received £20.4 billion from share sales and dividends since it began selling its stake in 2013, Hammond said in a speech delivered in Washington at the International Monetary Fund spring meeting.

Britain, which has been selling chunks of the shares every three or four weeks this year, plans to sell the rest of its shareholding of less than two percent "in the coming months".

It will have completely sold its stake by the end of May at the present rate, according to a Reuters calculation, marking a milestone in a sharp contrast with Royal Bank of Scotland, where the government still owns 70 percent of its shares nine years on from its own bailout.

"Of the UK banks, Lloyds has cleaned up its act fastest since the financial crisis. The share price was badly hit by Brexit, but Lloyds has recovered much of its poise since, thanks to some decent numbers from the bank itself and from the wider economy," Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

António Horta-Osório, chief executive of Lloyds said the news was "a moment of huge pride" for the bank and its staff.

"As we look to the future, we remain absolutely focused on our commitment to help Britain prosper," he said in a statement.