Lloyds shares are gaining ground after the government sold the last of its stake in the bank

LONDON — Shares in Lloyds Banking Group are gaining a little ground on Wednesday morning after it was confirmed that the British government has sold its final portion of the company’s stock.

The news was first reported by several media outlets late on Tuesday afternoon, but was confirmed by both Lloyds and government on Wednesday morning.

Britain spent more than £20 billion rescuing Lloyds during the global financial crisis, leaving the government with a 43% shareholding, which has been sold back into the market over the last five years.

Lloyds confirmed on Wednesday that the government made a profit of £894 million on the sale of the shares, benefit ting from the recovery in the bank’s share price since the financial crisis. Lloyds has returned £21.207 billion to the British taxpayer, while the government’s original bailout amounted to £20.313 billion.

“Today the Government has sold its last shares in Lloyds Banking Group, receiving more money than was originally invested. Six years ago we inherited a business that was in a very fragile financial condition,” Lloyds’ CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio said in a statement.

“Thanks to the hard work of everyone at Lloyds, we’ve turned the Group around.”

On the first day of renewed total private ownership Lloyds shares have gained a little ground, trading close 1% higher soon after 8.55 a.m. BST (3.55 a.m. ET), as the chart below illustrates (note the sharp pick-up at the open):

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