Government extends NatWest share-selling scheme by another 12 months


Natwest moves a step closer to private ownership as Government extends share-selling scheme by another year

Sale: Natwest chief exec, Alison Rose, was appointed in 2019

Natwest has moved another step closer to private ownership after the Government extended its share-selling scheme by another year.

The lender, formerly the Royal Bank of Scotland, was rescued by the Government in a £45.5billion bailout during the 2008 financial crisis and is still 48.5 per cent owned by the taxpayer.

Its chief executive, Alison Rose, was appointed in 2019. Last year, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced he was launching a trading plan to speed up NatWest’s privatisation. This involved appointing Morgan Stanley to drip-feed shares into the market, allowing them to be snapped up by investors.

The process has been gradual as the Treasury is keen to get a decent price, and too fast a flow could flood the market, pushing the price down.

So far, 703.5m shares have been sold, netting about £1.6billion. Now the scheme, which was due to run until August 12, has been extended for another year as the Government tries to offload the lot by 2025-26.

The taxpayer has suffered a heavy loss on the bank’s bailout.

Including previous share sales and dividends received from Natwest, the Treasury has recouped around £13billion of its £45.5billion.

If it sells the remaining shares at their current price of 228p, it would make another £11.6billion, leaving a loss of around £21billion.

Lloyds Bank, which was also saved during the financial crisis, was privatised in 2017 and the Treasury clawed back all of the money spent on its rescue.

The Government has previously stressed that the financial damage caused had NatWest been allowed to fail would probably have been worse.

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