UK Government plans £15bn sale of RBS shares

The UK Government has revived plans to re-privatise Royal Bank of Scotland with the aim of selling £15 billion of shares in the company by 2023, according to budget documents released on Wednesday.

The Government plans to restart sales of shares in RBS before the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year and sell off £3 billion a year over five years — amounting to roughly two thirds of the Government’s 72% stake in RBS.

RBS shares currently trade at around 270p — compared to the 502p the Government paid for them.

The UK Government injected £45.5 billion into RBS during the financial crisis.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said the UK Government now faces a £26.2 billion loss on its stake in RBS, down from a previous forecast of £29.2 billion after a recovery in the value of the bank’s shares, which have gained about 30% in the past year.

In the Budget Red Book, the UK Treasury said: “RBS has made significant progress on resolving its legacy issues and refocusing on serving British businesses and consumers.

“It remains the Government’s objective to return the bank fully to the private sector when it represents value for money to do so and market conditions allow.”

An RBS spokeswoman said: “We welcome the recognition from the Government on the progress we have made and the support for our strategy.

“We continue to deliver a simpler and safer bank focused on our customers in the UK but the timing of any share sale is a matter for the government.”