Lloyds Banking Group has posted its first annual profit since a 2008 bailout by the British government, edging it closer to a return to full private ownership, results showed Friday.
LBG recorded a profit after tax of £1.125 billion ($1.74 billion, 1.55 billion euros) last year compared with a net loss of 838 million in 2013, the bank said in an earnings statement -- in a boost also to Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of Britain's general election in May.
Chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said the results showed how Lloyds Banking Group had been transformed over time "into a low cost, low risk, UK focused retail and commercial bank".
He added in the statement: "Today's results also demonstrate that our profitability and capital position have improved significantly, and this has enabled the board, for the first time in over six years, to recommend we pay a dividend to our shareholders."
Britain still owns a large chunk of Lloyds after bailing it out with £20 billion of taxpayers' cash at the height of the 2008 global financial crisis.
The government on Monday sold a 1.0-percent stake in LBG for £500 million, trimming its holding to just under a quarter of the group.
The government initially took a 39-percent share of Lloyds and has so far raised almost £8.0 billion through share sales.
British finance minister George Osborne described the bank's latest earnings as "another major milestone in the recovery of the British economy from the great recession and the bank bailouts".
The chancellor of the exchequer added: "For the first time since its £20 billion bailout in 2008, Lloyds bank has made a profit and will start paying a dividend to its shareholders.
"This is good news not only for taxpayers, who will get at least another £100 million from the dividend, but also for millions of savers who hold Lloyds shares or have money invested in Lloyds through their pensions.
"We are delivering our plan to return the bank to full private ownership in a way that secures value for money for the taxpayer and supports the British economy. All proceeds from these sales are being used to reduce the national debt, in line with our long term economic plan,” Osborne added.
Osborne is a member of the Conservative party, led by Cameron and which heads a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.