British lender Lloyds has returned to full private ownership, following the sale of the remaining government-owned shares. The bank was bailed out by UK taxpayers at the height of the global financial crisis.
The British government sold its remaining shares in Lloyds Banking Group, which "The Guardian" newspaper called "a landmark moment fro the UK banking sector almost a decade after the 20.3-billion-pound ($26.2-billion, 23.6-billion-euro) bailout of the lender.
"Lloyds Banking Group has notified the market that the government's stake in the group has been reduced to zero - as such the group has returned to full private ownership," it said in a statement.
When the global financial crisis was in full swing, the UK government owned 43 percent of Lloyds, but has decreased co-ownership through a series of sales in recent years, getting rid of the remaining 0.25-percent stake this week.
Developments at Lloyds are in contrast to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which was also rescued by the taxpayer, but in which the state still owns a stake of well over 70 percent.
British economists said the turnaround at Lloyds could be attributed to a number of factors, including cost-cutting measures including some 75,000 job cuts since 2008. The bank has also been able to drastically reduce its unsustainable loan-to-deposit ratio.
"The Guardian" pointed out that Lloyds had given up "its international ambitions," adding that while it once operated in 30 nations, it now remained in just six, making it vulnerable to any economic slowdown in the UK caused by Brexit.
hg/jd (AFP, Reuters, Guardian)