Government stake in RBS-owner NatWest drops below 27%

Government stake in RBS-owner NatWest drops below 27%

(Credit: George Iordanov-Nalbantov)

Public ownership in NatWest Group, owner of the Royal Bank of Scotland, has dipped below 27% for the first time since its bailout in 2008.

The Treasury disclosed the sale of 0.98% of its shares, reducing its holding to 26.95%, as part of an ongoing trading plan.

Despite the reduction, UK Government Investments remains the largest investor in the bank, though it lost its controlling stake in March after dropping below 30%. This follows Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s March Spring Budget confirmation of plans to return NatWest to private ownership by 2025-26.

The upcoming share sale to the public, anticipated as early as this summer, aims to raise between £3 billion and £4bn. This move marks a significant step since the government’s intervention in 2008 when it rescued the bank from collapse, acquiring an 84% stake by injecting £45.5bn.

The pace of change is evident, with government ownership dropping from 37.98% in December 2023. This reduction is attributed to both the daily trading plan and a £1.3bn directed buyback in May 2023.

At the bank’s Q1’24 results last month, NatWest Group CEO Paul Thwaite, said: “We are pleased with the recent momentum in the reduction of HM Treasury’s stake in the bank. Returning NatWest Group to private ownership is a shared ambition and we believe it is in the best interests of both the bank and all our shareholders.”

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