Taxpayer gives up majority stake in NatWest 14 years after huge bailout Business

Almost a decade and a half since stepping in to save the Royal Bank of Scotland group during the financial crisis, the government handed over control for the first time after selling off a large chunk of the shares.

The Treasury said it sold £1.2bn worth of NatWest Group shares – as RBS renamed in 2020 – taking its stake to less than 50%.

John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: “This sale means that the government is no longer the majority owner of NatWest Group and is therefore an important step in our plan to return the bank to the private sector.

“We will continue to prioritize value for money for the taxpayer as we move this plan forward.”

In 2008, the government began taking a stake in the group following the financial crash that left it on the brink of collapse.

The initial investment, which saw the government own 57% of the bank, was extended several times before peaking at 84% in 2009.

The Treasury has been selling its stake since 2015, and the latest sale increases its stake from 50.6% to 48.1%.

NatWest said the latest deal saw it buy 550 million shares at around £2.21 each.

The NatWest share sale process is expected to continue for some time to come and has already taken considerably longer than the Lloyds sale.

The government’s stake in Lloyds Bank, which had risen to over 43% following the financial crash, was finally fully unwound in 2017. NatWest is far from this level.

The government received its shares in the banks in 2008 after announcing a £37bn capital injection into the sector.

So Prime Minister Gordon Brown was clear at the time that this was not an attempt to nationalize the banks, but that they would be resold “at the right time”.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-28 07:22:09

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