Bank extension

New deadline for selling NatWest stake


A taxpayer bailout rescued RBS in 2008

A plan to sell down the government’s stake in NatWest Group has been extended by a further two years after turmoil in the banking sector has eroded its value.

UK Government Investments (UKGI) manages the government’s 41.5% shareholding in the bank – formerly Royal Bank of Scotland group. It had already extended the deadline for offloading its stake until 11 August 2023, and it will be pushed back once again, to 11 August 2025.

No reason was given for the extension, but volatile markets, particularly affecting the banking sector, are likely to have been a contributory factor.

In 2008 the taxpayer took a 58% stake in NatWest – operating at the time as Royal Bank of Scotland – in a £45bn bailout.

So far it has raised £3.7bn through a gradual process of returning the bank fully to the private sector.

UKGI said it would continue to be open to other methods of further offloading shares in NatWest, including through share buybacks, but only if it was able to “achieve value for money for taxpayers”.

The government was more successful in selling its stake in Lloyds Banking Group, which bought HBOS in a similar government-led rescue plan that involved £20.3bn bailout. Lloyds bought back the last of its shares in 2017.

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