LONDON Fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown (HRGV.L) said on Wednesday it had written to the British government to protest about the potential exclusion of retail investors from the sale of its remaining stake in Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L).
UK Financial Investments Limited (UKFI), which manages the government's stake in the bailed-out bank, said on Friday it would relaunch a trading plan to try to return Lloyds to full private ownership through sales of stock to institutional investors over the next 12 months.
But it recommended scrapping plans to sell off some shares via a discounted offer to the general public, a decision Hargreaves said risked disappointing thousands of small investors hoping to cash in on growth at Britain's biggest mortgage lender.
In an emailed statement, Hargreaves Lansdown's Chief Executive, Ian Gorham, said any withdrawl of retail participation in the sale, which can be a money earner for its trading platform, would "put the interests of city institutions ahead of ordinary investors".
Hundreds of thousands of ordinary investors were keen to buy shares in the bank from the government; with 374,000 registering interest via Hargreaves Lansdown alone, the company said.
British finance minister Philip Hammond has stopped short of axing the retail share sale altogether but said it was "not the right time for a retail offer" due to increased market volatility.
(Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Sinead Cruise)