RBS share sale ‘value for money’ despite £2bn loss

A report by the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) has concluded that the first sale of UK government shares in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in 2015 was “value for money” despite leaving the taxpayer with losses of nearly £2 billion.

The NAO report into the sale of a 5.4% stake in RBS — about 630 million shares– revealed that overall losses on the sale reached £1.9 billion.

While details of the sale were leaked into the market about an hour before the official announcement, there was no impact on the sale price, the report said.

The NAO concluded the sale was “well planned and organised and represented value for money.”

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The sale was consistent with HM Treasury’s overarching objective to not be a permanent investor in UK financial institutions, and UKFI’s objective to execute a strategy for disposing of investments in an orderly and active way.

“It was executed as skilfully as could reasonably be expected, and on the basis of the preparation, process and proceeds of the transaction, UKFI achieved value for money.”

The UK government still has a roughly 71% stake in RBS.

The NAO report said the shares were sold for 330p each, a 2.3% discount to the market price and raised £2.1 billion.

The report said: “This initial disposal of RBS shares was executed at a price that was £1.9 billion less than the cost for those shares, which the government acquired for reasons of financial stability and not for the purpose of making a profit …”