LONDON Britain kicked off the process of appointing advisors for a sale of its shares in Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), asking investment banks to submit proposals by July 8.
UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which manages the government's stakes in the banks, is looking to appoint bookrunners, co-lead managers, capital markets advisers and strategic advisors.
Finance minister George Osborne said in his annual speech to financiers in the City of London last week that the government was ready to start selling its shares in Lloyds.
The government is keen to show Britain's part-nationalized banks are recovering from the 2008 financial crisis and a profitable sale of part of its 39 percent stake in Lloyds would allow it to claim at least partial success ahead of the next election in 2015.
Shares in Lloyds rose 2 percent on Friday, hitting 64.3 pence, their highest level for over 2 years, trading comfortably above the 61.2 pence level which the government regards as its break-even.
Expectations of an imminent sale of Lloyds shares have intensified since they hit the break-even price in May. Industry sources have said Britain's finance ministry wants the shares to be trading consistently above that level before it starts selling.
The sources say a sale of up to 10 percent of Lloyds shares could happen as early as this year. However, a sale of the government's 81 percent stake in RBS is still a long way off and the Treasury is examining the merits of breaking up the bank.
In an 'Invitation to Tender' document on UKFI's website, interested banks are asked to register their interest by July 1 and to submit their full proposals by July 8.
(Additional reporting by Laura Noonan; Editing by Kylie MacLellan and Elaine Hardcastle)