LONDON: Britain’s finance ministry insisted Saturday it would dispose of its majority stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland “at the appropriate moment” amid reports ministers were considering a share giveaway.
RBS could be ready to return to the private sector later this year, but at present prices that would represent a huge loss to British taxpayers.
They own 81 percent of the Edinburgh-based bank after it was bailed out to the tune of #45.5 billion ($70.5 billion, 52.8 billion euros) at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008.
At current share prices, the taxpayers’ stake is worth #31 billion.
A senior government source was quoted by The Independent newspaper as saying of giving away shares: “This is something which is being looked at very seriously and officials have been asked to come up with a range of options for us to consider.
“There is a realisation that there is no prospect of RBS’s share price rising to the level at which we bailed the bank out and it’s not good for the bank or the government to hold on to our stake indefinitely.