WASHINGTON — The Treasury has sold a second tranche of Citigroup Inc. common stock, bringing the government's profits from sales of the bank's shares above $2 billion and reducing its ownership stake in the company to around 18%.

The Treasury's latest sale of 1.1 billion shares brings the total number of shares sold by the Treasury to 2.6 billion, about one-third of the government's holdings.

The government sold its Citi shares for an average of $4.03 each after paying $3.25 a share to acquire the stock as part of a deal to provide Citigroup with billions in aid through the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"We are pleased that Treasury has profitably sold a third of its common shares in Citi, adding to the substantial return for taxpayers realized last year when we repaid the December 2008 TARP investment," Citigroup spokesman Jon Diat said in a statement.

But the government's returns on its second sale were slightly lower than in its first sale. Those shares fetched $4.13 each while the second sale fetched around $3.89 a share.

The Treasury still holds 5.1 billion Citigroup shares and plans to continue selling them "in an orderly fashion" once a blackout related to Citi's second-quarter earnings release ends.

That blackout period begins Thursday.

Treasury in May said it would sell up to 1.5 billion Citi shares before the beginning of that blackout period, but it noted "the plan will terminate on June 30 even if all shares have not been sold by that time."

Citigroup shares were trading at around $3.80 premarket Thursday, up from Wednesday's close of $3.76.

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