February 23, 2017 / 7:11 AM / a year ago

British government cuts stake in Lloyds to below 4 percent

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government said on Thursday it has further reduced its stake in Lloyds Banking Group, a day after the bank posted its highest profit since before the 2007-2009 global financial crisis.

Customers use ATMs at a branch of Lloyds Bank in London, Britain, February 21, 2017. Picture taken February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which manages the government’s stake in the lender, said in a statement it has reduced its stake in the bank to 3.89 percent.

Lloyds, which was rescued with a 20.5 billion pound taxpayer bailout, is close to a complete recovery from its crisis-era past after more than doubling its profit last year and setting aside a lower amount to cover misconduct issues.

At the current sell down rate, Lloyds should be fully returned to private ownership by May.

(The story corrects percentage of UKFI stake to 3.89 percent, paragraph 2)

Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia

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