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Osborne gives green light for Lloyds Banking Group share sale

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Chancellor George Osborne says the Government is actively considering selling off shares in Lloyds Banking Group as it examines the case for splitting up the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Speaking at the annual Mansion House dinner in London last week, Osborne contrasted the fates of the two state-owned banks and lamented the slow progress in RBS’s recovery.

He said: “Lloyds is in a good position. Investor interest is growing. And shares are already trading at around the price where selling would reduce the national debt.

“That is something we all want to see. I can announce that we are actively considering options for share sales in Lloyds.”

Osborne said the first set of Lloyds shares will be made available to institutional investors, while a second tranche will be offered to the general public.

He said RBS is not ready to sell and he will publish a report and make a decision on a split into a good and bad bank by the autumn. 

Conservative MP Brooks Newmark says: “Lloyds is in better shape than RBS. It is ultimately not in taxpayers’ interest to hold onto it any longer than is necessary. If he believes he can give a return to taxpayers and reduce national debt through a sale then it is the right decision.

“RBS’s balance sheet is fairly toxic and more work needs to be done before any share offering or privatisation.”

Hargreaves Lansdown head of equities Richard Hunter says: “Lloyds is already back making profits; it has cut costs and largely repaired its balance sheet. The time seems right for an IPO.”

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