Financial News

  • 20 December 2013, 1:09

Lloyds Shares Sale: Taxpayers 'Lost £230m'

Taxpayers took a £230m hit from the sale of a 6% chunk of Lloyds Banking Group shares to the private sector, says a National Audit Office (NAO) report.

The figure appears to undermine a claim at the time by Chancellor George Osborne that the share sale in September represented "a profit for taxpayers".

The Government acquired a 39% chunk of Lloyds Banking Group in 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis after it swallowed up troubled Halifax Bank of Scotland.

It returned a 6% portion of the bank to the private sector with a share sale to institutional investors earlier this year.

The £230m loss takes into account the cost of borrowing money to fund the £20bn bank bailout in 2009.

It would suggest that the overall loss of the bailout for the bank could be nearly £1.5bn if the rest of the taxpayer stake is sold off at a similar price.

Mr Osborne trumpeted in the autumn that the £6.2bn Lloyds share sale had resulted in the national debt being reduced by more than half a billion pounds.

That claim was later backed in data from the Office for National Statistics.

This £586m figure represented the difference between the value for accounting purposes of the shares on the Treasury's books - at 61p - and the 75p sale price.

The Treasury acknowledged at the time of the sell-off that the cash profit was far less, at £61m.

The latest report does not dispute these calculations but it takes into account the effective interest paid by the Government to make the bailout investments.

It also recommends that the Treasury should consider these financing costs when analysing the value to the taxpayer of any future sale.

However the report, which is broadly positive about the handling of the sale, said: "This shortfall should be seen as part of the cost of securing the benefits of stability during the financial crisis, rather than any reflection on the sale process."

UK Financial Investments, which manages the Government's stakes in the bailed-out banks, ran the sale.

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