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US Sells Its Citigroup Stock for a Profit

The corporate logo for Citigroup is shown, in New York
The corporate logo for Citigroup is shown, in New York

The U.S. government has sold its remaining common stock in the country's third biggest bank and made a profit on the deal.

The government handed Citigroup a $45 billion bailout in 2008 to keep it operating during the worst part of the world recession. The government once owned 27 percent of the bank, but late Monday sold the last 2.4 billion shares it held for $10.5 billion.

Overall, including earlier sales of the Citigroup stock, the government made a $12 billion profit on the bailout. That is an outcome at odds with the fears of some analysts at the time of the bailout that the government would lose money in propping up Citigroup.

The government is attempting to end its ownership of private U.S. companies as the nation's still sluggish economy improves at a slow pace. Last month, the government sold a large portion of its ownership in General Motors, the second largest automaker in the world. The government has reduced its ownership of GM to 33 percent, down from 61 percent.

The government sold its Citigroup stock at $4.35 a share, compared with Monday's closing price of $4.45. The government said it decided to sell its stock to "lock in substantial profits for taxpayers."

Even with the stock sale, the government still owns the right to purchase another 465 million shares of Citigroup. The government plans to sell those rights as well, but the worth of that transaction is uncertain. In addition, the government also still owns $3 billion in preferred Citigroup stock.