Lloyds Bank 'back in private hands after government sells final stake'

Lloyds Banking Group has been fully returned to private hands nearly nine years after the Government bailed out the lender at the height of the financial crisis, sources have said.

The high street bank said last week the Government's stake had been reduced to 0.25% and the UK taxpayer was set to make at least a £500 million profit from the final sale.

It is understood the Government's final tranche of Lloyds shares have now been sold, with an official announcement set to be made when the regulatory news service opens at 7am on Wednesday.

Speaking at the bank's annual general meeting on Thursday, chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said a return to private ownership represents a "major milestone" in efforts to turn the bank around from the "crisis" it faced a few years ago.

At its peak, Lloyds was 43% owned by the state after the Government spent £20.3 billion of taxpayers' cash to bail it out during the banking crisis.