Retail investors will be able to get their hands on "at least" £2bn-worth of Lloyds Banking Group shares, the government confirmed today.
The shares are being offered a discount of five per cent of market price, and those who keep their holding for more than a year will receive a bonus share for every 10 shares they own, capped at £200 per investor.
The share sale is to take place in early 2016, "dependent on market conditions".
In a bid to encourage as many retail investors as possible, the government said people applying for investments of less than £1,000 would be prioritised. Military personnel and their spouses stationed overseas will be able to participate in the sale, where possible.
The government currently owns just under 12 per cent of Lloyds, having at one point held a 43 per cent in the lender, when it was bailed out with £20bn of taxpayer cash in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Until now, the government has realised £15bn from releasing the bank's equity back into the market.
George Osborne had made an election pledge to open up the share sale to retail investors, however this plan was put on ice because of trading volatility during the summer: so far the sales have been to institutional investors.
"It is the government’s intention to fully exit from its Lloyds shareholding in the coming months, and as part of this at least £2bn of shares will be sold to retail investors," the government said this morning. As with previous share sales, all proceeds from share sales are being used to pay down the national debt.
Last month the Treasury said: "The trading plan was launched on 17 December 2014 and will end no later than 31 December 2015."
A website has been set up at www.gov.uk/lloydsshares for interested parties to pre-register.