A competition enquiry could upset Conservative party plans to sell billions of pounds of Lloyds Banking Group shares to the public by May 2016, Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable said yesterday.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is set to publish its final report on the personal current accounts and small business banking markets in April 2016. Provisional findings are due to be announced this autumn.
Cable said that if the CMA recommended that Lloyds sell-off additional parts of its business, or imposed some other sanction, the bank’s share price would likely be affected.
“If that happened, it would be very difficult [for the Conservatives] to implement their plan,” he told Sky News yesterday.
“Mr Osborne probably didn't think about the implications of the CMA inquiry before announcing it,” Cable added.
The current plans would see a £4bn share sale taking place within 12 months of the General Election.
Shares would not be sold for less than the taxpayer’s breakeven price of 73.6p. However, they would be offered at a discount of five per cent compared with the market price at the time of the sale.
Lloyds shares closed at a price of 78.75p on Friday.
Ordinary shareholders would be able to apply for between £250 and £10,000-worth of Lloyds shares, with priority given to those seeking less than £1,000 of the bank’s stock.
Investors who held on to their shares for at least a year would receive a free bonus share for every 10 that they owned. The sale would be accompanied by a public information drive, the Tories said.