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UK Government No Longer a Controlling Shareholder in Natwest After Taking Stake Below 30 Per Cent

NatWest (Credits: Bloomberg)

The UK government has reduced its ownership of Natwest Bank to below 30 percent, making it no longer the primary owner. This happened on March 22, according to a filing by the bank to the stock market.

With the government’s stake now below 30 percent, it’s no longer considered the bank’s main shareholder. This means the government doesn’t have as many legal rules to follow, like needing two votes to appoint directors.

During the financial crisis of 2008, the government saved Natwest, then called Royal Bank of Scotland, by buying 84 percent of its shares for about 502p each. This cost taxpayers £45.5 billion, but they haven’t made that money back because Natwest’s share price has dropped by half since then.

The NatWest chief executive (Credits: Sky News)

So far, the government has only made back about £14.5 billion by selling some shares, including £5.8 billion through a trading plan that started in August 2021. This year alone, the government’s ownership of Natwest has decreased by about eight percent. They aim to sell all their shares by 2026.

Starting as early as June, the government plans to sell some of its remaining Natwest shares to regular people, not just big investors. This is part of a bigger plan to make the UK’s financial markets busier.

Natwest can also agree with the government to buy back some of its shares. They’ve done this three times since 2021 and can do it again in May. Natwest wants permission from its shareholders to buy back even more shares from the government each year, up to 15 percent, instead of just under five percent.

NatWest boss Alison Rose (Credits: The Independent)

This is because there will be new rules soon that could make the stock market in London more popular. A spokesperson for Natwest said they’re happy that the government is trying to sell its shares, as it’s best for the bank and its shareholders.

Bim Afolami, who works for the city, said this is an important step toward returning Natwest to private ownership. He also mentioned that if everything goes well, they’re thinking about letting regular people buy Natwest shares starting this summer.

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