Osborne confirms delay of Lloyds share sale

UK finance minister George Osborne confirmed on Thursday the UK government will delay the sale of its remaining stake in Lloyds Banking Group, owner of Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows.

Osborne tweeted: “We’ll build a share owning democracy. So British people can buy Lloyds shares but we’ll only sell when turbulent markets have calmed down.”

Lloyds was bailed out for roughly £20.5 billion during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

The UK taxpayer still owns almost 10% of Lloyds.

Osborne told BBC News that his “principal concern” in deciding to postpone the sale was turbulence in the financial markets, despite “hundreds of thousands” of private investors being “interested”.

“I want to create a share owning democracy and I want to give the British people a chance to buy shares in Lloyds bank, a bank that they had to bail out.

“It is also my responsibility to make sure we have a secure and sound economy and with these turbulent financial markets it wouldn’t be right to have the Lloyds share sale now,” he said.

“There will be a sale of shares [in] Lloyds but only when the time is right for people.

“We need those markets to calm down, and then we can proceed with the sale.

“We’ve got hundreds of thousands of people interested in buying these shares, I want to sell them the shares, but it wouldn’t be right to undertake that sale when frankly things are pretty turbulent out there on the stock markets and the global financial markets.”