Shares deal

Taxpayer stake in NatWest falls to 22.5% after buyback

Royal Bank of Scotland HQ Gogarburn
NatWest trades as RBS in Scotland

The Government’s stake in NatWest Group, trading as Royal Bank of Scotland north of the border, has been cut to 22.5% after the bank bought back 392 million shares.

The buyback of shares at 316.2p cost £1.24 billion, representing 4.5% of its share capital and includes cancellation of shares as well as government-owned shares.

It reduces government ownership in the bank from its peak of 84% at the time of the bail-out of RBS in 2008 and comes as a planned sale next month of the remaining taxpayer holding through a “Tell Sid” retail offer will not go ahead. Labour has yet to confirm if it will pursue the plan if it forms the next government.

Paul Thwaite, NatWest Group chief executive, said: “This transaction represents another important milestone for NatWest Group, building on recent momentum in the reduction of HM Treasury’s stake in the bank.

“We believe it is a positive use of capital for the bank and for our shareholders and represents further progress against the ambition to return NatWest Group to full private ownership.

“Our focus remains on delivering for our customers which will, in turn, deliver for our shareholders and the UK economy.”

Shares in NatWest are up by more than 40% this year having risen from 220p on 2 January to 316p as of last night.

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