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Lloyds retail share sale could be scrapped under new Chancellor

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08: Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond talks to the media on College Green outside the Houses of Parliament on October 8, 2010 in London, England. Labour leader Ed Miliband has today announced the appointments to his Shadow Cabinet, which will include eleven female ministers. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

The new Government could be about to speed up the return of Lloyds Banking Group to private ownership while at the same time scrapping George Osborne’s plan for a retail share sale.

The Telegraph reports Chancellor Philip Hammond not be prepared to wait for Lloyds’ share price to rise above 73.6p, the level the shares were at when the bank was bailed out during the financial crisis.

Osborne’s proposal to offer retail investors a discount in the bank’s shares as part of a pre-election sweetener is also expected to be shelved.

The Treasury has so far received £16bn from Lloyds share sales, and needs to get to £20bn to recoup the cost of the bailout.

But banking sources have told the newspaper the Treasury could break even overall by selling the shares above 54p. Post-Brexit the bank has been trading around the 55p mark.

The Treasury could choose to drip-feed Lloyds shares onto the market when they are trading above 54p, or agree a larger sale to institutions.

One source said the 73.6p target “was a George Osborne/David Cameron idea, [Mr Hammond] could scrap it, a couple of governments on from the bailout.”

The Treasury, UK Financial Investments, which manages the Government’s banking stakes, and Lloyds declined to comment.

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