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UK Government Lowers Stake in NatWest to Below 30%

NatWest sale (Credits: Proactive Investors)

The UK government’s ownership in NatWest Group PLC has dropped below 30% for the first time since the bank was taken over during the 2008 financial crisis.

A recent announcement confirmed that the government’s share in the bank is now 29.82%, slightly lower than before. This means the government’s stake is now worth just under GBP7 billion.

NatWest, which also includes Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (RBS) and Coutts & Co, was nationalized during the financial crisis. The government acquired an 84% stake in the company after several large bailouts.

NatWest Bosses (Credits: LBC)

Initially, NatWest became one of the world’s largest banks, but by October 2008, it struggled financially. The Bank of England lent it billions of pounds to prevent a collapse. The government announced it would take a GBP20 billion stake in the bank after this.

Since then, the government has gradually sold off its stake in NatWest. While this process started slowly, it has picked up pace in recent months. In 2018, the government still owned 62% of NatWest, but by the end of 2022, it had reduced to 45.9%; by December 31 last year, it was down to 37.98%.

NatWest Group PLC (Credits: Reuters)

Earlier this month, the government announced plans to sell all its shares in NatWest by March 2026 and to sell shares to retail investors. NatWest supported the government’s commitment to returning the bank to private ownership. They believe this is in the bank’s and its shareholders’ best interest.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Bim Afolami described this milestone as significant progress toward returning NatWest to private ownership. They are considering offering NatWest shares to retail investors as soon as this summer. On Monday afternoon in London, NatWest shares fell by 1.0% to 258.40 pence each.

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