The British bank Lloyds, bailed out by the U.K. government at the height of the financial crisis, said on Wednesday that it had returned to full private ownership. "Lloyds Banking Group [LBG] has ... notified the market that the government's stake in the group has been reduced to zero; as such, the group has returned to full private ownership," it said in a statement.
The government had been steadily offloading its stake as LBG recovered, resulting in 21.2 billion pounds ($27.4 billion) returning to the taxpayers.
This is 894 million pounds more than the government's initial investment, including more 400 million pounds in dividend payouts, Lloyds said Wednesday.
"Today the government has sold its last shares in Lloyds Banking Group, receiving more money than was originally invested," said LBG chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio. "Thanks to the hard work of everyone at Lloyds, we've turned the group around," he said. The British government bailed out Lloyds following the 2008 world financial crisis at a cost of 20.3 billion pounds, handing the state a 43 percent stake in the bank.
The government still owns 73 percent of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which was rescued with 45.5 billion pounds of the taxpayers' cash during the crisis in the world's biggest bank bailout.