UK govt extends NatWest-RBS stake sale by two years

NatWest-RBS HQ at Gogarburn in Edinburgh

UK Government Investments Ltd (UKGI) is extending a trading plan to help sell down the taxpayer’s stake in NatWest Group by another two years as it reduces the UK state’s remaining 42% ownership of the bank, formerly known as RBS.

A gradual series of share sales returned the bank, bailed out during the 2007-09 global financial crisis, to majority private ownership last year.

The UK government said the stake sale plan will continue to be managed by Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc and that Goldman Sachs International is acting as Privatisation Adviser to UKGI.

The UK’s Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrew Griffith said: “We are determined to return NatWest to full private ownership.

“Today’s extension marks another significant milestone in delivering this – ensuring we achieve best value for the taxpayer as we sell down the shareholding.”

UKGI said in a statement: “UKGI today announces that it has agreed to extend the sale of part of His Majesty’s Treasury’s shareholding in NatWest Group plc under the trading plan announced on 22 July 2021 and extended on 22 June 2022.

“Following the extension, the Trading Plan will now terminate no later than 11 August 2025 instead of 11 August 2023 (unless further extended).

“The Trading Plan will continue to be managed by Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc. Under the Trading Plan, Morgan Stanley will have full discretion to continue to effect a measured and orderly sell down of ordinary shares in the company on behalf of HM Treasury.

“The Trading Plan will continue to include provisions that (a) HM Treasury’s intention is that up to, but no more than, 15% of the aggregate total trading volume in the company will be sold during the two year extension of the Trading Plan announced today, and (b) shares may not be sold under the Trading Plan below a price per share that UKGI and HM Treasury determine represents fair value and delivers value for money for the taxpayer throughout the term of the Trading Plan.

“The actual number of shares sold on any day under the Trading Plan will depend on market conditions, among other factors.

“Since it was established, HM Treasury has realised proceeds of approximately £3.7 billion in total under the Trading Plan.

“HM Treasury currently owns 3,983,059,856 Shares, which represents approximately 41.5% of voting rights in the company. 

“HM Treasury’s percentage of voting rights may increase if shares are purchased by the company under its ongoing share buyback programme.  Any such increases will be offset (in whole or in part) by any sale of shares under the Trading Plan.

“UKGI and HM Treasury will keep other disposal options under active consideration, including by way of directed buybacks and/or accelerated bookbuilds when market conditions permit. The decision to extend the Trading Plan does not preclude HM Treasury from executing such other disposals that achieve value for money for taxpayers, including during the term of the Trading Plan.

“Goldman Sachs International is acting as Privatisation Adviser to UKGI. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is acting as legal counsel to UKGI in respect of English and US law.”