Early election stalls public share sale of RBS-owner NatWest

Early election stalls public share sale of RBS-owner NatWest

Government plans to launch an offering of NatWest shares to the general public have been derailed by the imminent general election.

The Prime Minister announced on Wednesday that the election will take place on 4 July. This initiated a period of “heightened sensitivity” during which the government and civil servants must avoid decisions that could influence the election campaign.

This timing is likely to delay the Treasury’s highly anticipated retail share sale of RBS-owner NatWest, which was rescued by a £46 billion bailout from the Labour government during the financial crisis.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt had aimed to launch the sale this summer, intending to create a “new generation of retail investors” before an expected autumn election, the Financial Times reports.

The retail sale plan included offering the state’s shares in NatWest at a discount to the public, alongside a sale to institutional investors. The government, which once held an 84% stake in NatWest, reduced its holding to about 27% in March, and is now no longer a controlling shareholder.

The government had been preparing for the share sale with M&C Saatchi set to spearhead a national advertising campaign, reminiscent of the 1980s “Tell Sid” campaign during Margaret Thatcher’s privatisations.

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