LLOYDS Banking Group has confirmed it has been fully returned to private hands nearly nine years after the UK Government bailed it out at the height of the financial crisis.

The Government’s final tranche of 638.4 million Lloyds shares have been sold, marking a milestone for the lender and closing a troubled chapter for the group.

Lloyds said the taxpayer had made a profit of £894 million on the original £20.3 billion of cash pumped in as part of its rescue.

Chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said: “Six years ago we inherited a business that was in a very fragile financial condition. Thanks to the hard work of everyone at Lloyds, we’ve turned the group around.

“We’re going to continue to use our strong position to help Britain prosper.”

Chairman Lord Blackwell said the sale of the last 0.25 per cent stake “marks the final step in the rescue and rejuvenation of Lloyds Banking Group”.

“The combination of our strong financial performance and the progress we have made towards our strategic priorities has enabled over £21.2bn to be returned to the Government, more than repaying the amount that taxpayers invested,” he said.