Lloyds Banking Group plc (LYG)  became the first of Britain's rescued lenders to return to private hands Wednesday after the government sold its final stake in the bank nearly a decade after the global financial crisis.

Lloyds was forced into government hands in 2008 after a merger with HBOS, at the behest of Treasury officials, led to losses of more than £25 billion. British taxpayers ended up with a 43% stake in the bank after an investment of around £20.3 billion that was gradually trimmed to zero over the past three years. The final sale was worth around 0.25% of the bank's listed equity. 

"Six years ago we inherited a business that was in a very fragile financial condition," said Lloyds CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio, who joined the bank in 2011. "Thanks to the hard work of everyone at Lloyds, we've turned the group around."

The government will make a profit of around £900 million on the investment, Lloyds said, and remains an owner of around 70% of the equity in rival Royal Bank of Scotland Plc (RBS) . 

LLoyds shares were marked 1% higher in the opening 30 minutes of trading in London to change hands at 70.86 pence each and extend their year-to-date gain to just under 14%.