London: Britain’s Conservative Party, which holds a hefty lead in the opinion polls, is looking at ways of selling off the British government’s equity stakes in Lloyds Banking Group PLC and Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC to ordinary shareholders should it win the next general election, a spokesman for the party said on Monday.
Hayden Allan, a party press officer, said the Conservative Treasury team was considering a privatisation program similar to the British Gas campaign in the 1980s, when a large chunk of the company was sold off to individuals as opposed to financial institutions.
However, he said this was only one option on the table and that it was “too early to say what we’d do.”
A general election has to be called by Prime Minister Gordon Brown by next June.
The British Gas privatisation was hailed as a great success at the time, tripling the number of British shareholders and raising much-needed capital for the Conservative government then in office.
Any government would have to ensure a good return on its holdings in Lloyds and Royal Bank, which were saved from possible collapse last autumn when the British government splashed out around $61 billion to keep them afloat.
In return for its cash injections, the government took a 43% stake in Lloyds and more than 70% in Royal Bank of Scotland.