Election 24

NatWest Tell Sid campaign unlikely to go ahead

The government was planning a public sale of its shares in RBS parent NatWest (pic: Terry Murden)

A planned sale of government shares in NatWest (RBS) to the public is likely to to be a victim of the decision to call a July general election.

Advisers had begun working on a proposed “Tell Sid” campaign, emulating the process of selling shares in British Gas in the 1980s.

A retail offer in June is now almost certain to come under the purdah rules that restrict government activity during an election campaign.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the planned sale of the government’s remaining 27% stake in a move aimed at stimulating interest in the stock market.

M&C Saatchi, the advertising agency, was hired to handle the promotional activity while bankers from Goldman Sachs and Barclays have been working on the sale mechanics.

The government’s stake in what was originally RBS, formed a key part of the rescue of the bank at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. It is managed at arm’s length by UK Government Investments.

MPs will be asked to sit on Friday, giving parliament just two days for “wash-up”, where the 28 bills currently making their way through parliament must either be passed or abandoned.

Bills in the system include: the Sentencing Bill, which would scrap short prison sentences; the Criminal Justice Bill, which includes several measures on police powers; the Renters Reform Bill, which aims to strengthen the rights of tenants; a bill to approve the leg of HS2 between Crewe and Manchester; the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which would make smoking illegal for those born before 2009; and the Football Governance Bill, which would introduce a state regulator for the sport.

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