Govt’s stake in NatWest dips below 30%

The Government’s stake in NatWest has dropped to below 30% for the first time since the bank was bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis.

A stock exchange announcement has confirmed that the Treasury’s stake in the bank, which also owns Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Coutts, now stands at 29.8%, down by just over one percentage point from 31%.

Sky News reported that the Government’s stake in NatWest is now worth just under £7bn.

The reduction to below 30% means that the Government is also no longer classed as the controlling shareholder in NatWest under UK listing rules.

NatWest was nationalised during the financial crisis, when a £46bn bailout left the Government with an 84% stake in the company, which at the time was known as the RBS Group.

Since then, the Government has been gradually reducing its shareholding in the bank, although NatWest earlier this year stated that the sale of its shares to the public could happen as soon as June.

Shares have so far been sold to institutional investors and back to NatWest itself, but UK Government Investments (UKGI), the group responsible for Government investments, has been exploring a share sale since the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, confirmed the plans in his Autumn Budget last year.

Hunt reaffirmed these plans in the Spring Budget earlier this month as part of a move to return NatWest to private ownership by 2026.

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