Nearly 27,000 people sign Lloyds share sale u-turn petition
Earlier this month, the Treasury announced it had withdrawn the planned retail sale of its final 9.1% stake in Lloyds, blaming ongoing market volatility.
The news received mix reaction as on one hand, it was good news that the government was returning its remaining share of Lloyds Bank to private ownership, but on the other hand, there was disappointment investors had been denied the opportunity to pick up a stake directly from the government at a discount.
Instead, the sale will be conducted via a trading plan over the next year, gradually selling shares in the market in a bid to get back all of the £20.3bn taxpayers injected into Lloyds during the financial crisis.
Less than a week later, the chief executive of Hargreaves Lansdown wrote a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May urging the ‘rethink’ of the Lloyds retail sale withdrawal as 374,000 people had already registered their interest through the stockbroker.
So far, a petition calling for the general public to participate when the government sells its Lloyds stake has been signed by more than 26,700 people.
This means it has already exceeded the 10,000 signatures required to receive a response and is now over a quarter of the way to the 100,000 needed to be considered for a parliamentary debate.
‘The man in the street has to pay full price’
Ian Gorham, chief executive of Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “It’s easy to see why so many people are unhappy with the decision to cut out the retail investor. The taxpayer owned stake in Lloyds is being sold to city institutions when the man in the street has to pay full price.
“We urge the government to rethink. Money from taxpaying working people bailed out Lloyds Plc and they should be given the opportunity to participate in its sale. This share sale is an ideal opportunity for the government to encourage people to invest in their future.”
Hargreaves Lansdown added that in the case of a u-turn on the decision, it would waive the usual dealing commission and “do the Lloyds share sale work for nothing”.
So far, the government has recovered nearly £17bn of the £20.3bn taxpayer funded-bailout and it has reduced its shareholding in Lloyds to below 9%.
You can view the petition here.