Shares sold

Taxpayer no longer has controlling interest in NatWest

Royal Bank of Scotland HQ Gogarburn
The government bought up 84% of RBS (now NatWest) in 2008 (pic: Terry Murden)

The taxpayer no longer has a controlling interest in NatWest after the government sold more shares to reduce its holding to 29.8%.

A controlling shareholder is defined by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as a shareholder that controls at least 30% of the votes in a company.  

Being a controlling shareholder placed additional regulatory and legal requirements on the government in its capacity as a shareholder in NatWest, formerly Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The late Alistair Darling, as Labour Chancellor, took an 84% stake in Edinburgh-based RBS in 2008 to avoid it collapsing. Since the government began selling down its holdings in August 2021, approximately £5.8 billion has been raised, though this is well below the price paid.

The Treasury said it sold the latest tranche on 22 March and it intends to achieve full private ownership of the bank by 2025-26, subject to supportive market conditions and achieving value for money.

In his Budget statement earlier this month, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed his intention to launch a retail offering of NatWest shares, to create opportunities for a new generation of retail investors to engage with public markets.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Bim Afolami, said: “This is a significant milestone demonstrating we’re making excellent progress on fully returning NatWest to private ownership.

“In addition to our successful trading plan, we are now looking ahead to a retail offering of NatWest shares which could come as soon as this summer, subject to market conditions and value for money.”

The ongoing trading plan, which allows a measured and orderly sale of shares at market price on a daily basis, is one of several disposal methods available to the government.

The Treasury and UK Government Investments, which holds the taxpayers’ stake, continue to keep all possible disposal methods under active consideration for future sales, including accelerated bookbuilds and directed buybacks.

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