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Hargreaves Lansdown writes to PM urging ‘rethink’ of Lloyds retail sale withdrawal

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The chief executive of Hargreaves Lansdown has written to Theresa May urging her to ‘rethink’ the decision to withdraw the planned retail sale of the government’s final 9.1% stake in Lloyds.

Last week chancellor Philip Hammond announced that due to “ongoing volatility”, the sale would be conducted via a trading plan to ensure it gets back all of the £20.3bn that taxpayers injected into Lloyds during the financial crisis.

At the time, stock broker Hargreaves Lansdown said that while it was good news that the government is returning its remaining share of Lloyds Bank to private ownership, retail investors would be “disappointed at being denied the opportunity to pick up a stake directly from the government at a discount.”

As a result, its chief executive Ian Gorham yesterday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of ordinary investors who have been denied the opportunity to share in the forthcoming sale of Lloyds Bank shares.

It cited the following reasons:

  • The withdrawal of any retail element to the share sale, in favour of an institutional placing, has put the interests of city institutions ahead of ordinary investors
  • Hundreds of thousands of ordinary investors were interested to buy a stake in the bank from the government; 374,000 contacted Hargreaves Lansdown alone
  • New share offers are a tried and tested way to encourage long term investing. The Royal Mail offer in 2013 attracted 690,000 retail investors
  • The government cited ‘market volatility’ as a reason for an institutional placing, yet retail share investors are aware of and happily accept the fact that markets go down and up.

Gorham said: “We urge the government that a rethink would be a victory for common sense. Money from taxpaying working people bailed out Lloyds Plc. Not giving them the opportunity to participate in its sale is disgraceful and patronising.”