Shares in taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group have reached a three-year high amid mounting speculation that the Government is poised to push the button on its stake sale.
Reports suggest the Treasury is considering kicking off the sale process within the week, with plans to offload around £5 billion of shares initially - equivalent to around a quarter of its 39% shareholding.
Lloyds shares were trading at their highest level since September 2010, up another 2% at just over 78p after more than doubling in value over the past year.
This means shares are comfortably above the 61p minimum level at which the state would break even on its bailout, and higher than the 7 3.6p average price paid at the time of the bank's £20.3 billion Government rescue.
Rumours have been circulating for weeks over Treasury plans to place a 10% stake with institutional investors and shares have held firm despite wider market turbulence due to fears over the Syrian crisis.
The Treasury remained tight-lipped on the stake sale, reiterating that it had no timetable for the move.
But it is thought Chancellor George Osborne could be keen to capitalise on the stock's recent rises, while an announcement might also be timed ahead of the Conservatives' annual party conference starting on September 29 and before Lloyds enters a close period for its third quarter results on October 29.
UK Financial Investments, which manages the Government's stakes in Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, is said to be monitoring the bank's shares on a daily basis, although a final decision rests with Mr Osborne.
Lloyds yesterday spun off 631 branches under the TSB brand to appease European rules on state aid following its bailout at the height of the financial crisis.
The launch was blighted by an IT glitch that left some of its millions of customers unable to access accounts online, although Lloyds and TSB websites were later back up and running.
It marked another milestone for Lloyds, which hailed its recovery earlier this summer after swinging out of the red with half-year profits of more than £2 billion.
Antonio Horta-Osorio, chief executive of Lloyds, said on reporting the impressive turnaround that it was up the Government to decide ''when and how'' to sell off its stake.
Lloyds also delivered a further boost to shares as it said on unveiling interim results that it would hold talks with regulators in the second half of 2013 over a timetable for reviving shareholder dividend payouts for the first time since mid-2008.