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UK government no longer NatWest's controlling shareholder

Published 25/03/2024, 13:10
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past a Natwest Bank branch in central London, Britain November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Isabel Infantes/File Photo
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LONDON (Reuters) -The British government is no longer the controlling shareholder in NatWest - the bank it bailed out at the height of the global financial crisis - and has reduced its stake in the lender to below 30%, the finance ministry said on Monday.

"This is a significant milestone demonstrating we're making excellent progress on fully returning NatWest to private ownership," economic secretary Bim Afolami said in a statement.

The government's ownership of the former Royal Bank of Scotland (LON:NWG) dipped below 30% after the sale of further stock to institutional investors under the government's trading plan. The state's holding in the bank was once as high as 84%.

The government has taken steps to try to accelerate the return of NatWest to private hands by a target of 2026, and is planning the sale of a chunk of its stock to the public as early as June.

The reduction below 30% means the government is technically no longer classed as a controlling shareholder under UK listing rules, which eases some restrictions on appointments of directors.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past a Natwest Bank branch in central London, Britain November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Isabel Infantes/File Photo

A NatWest spokesperson said the bank was pleased with the recent momentum the government had shown in returning the bank to private ownership.

NatWest last week wrote to its shareholders seeking approval to buy back up to 15% of its stock from the government, up from a previous cap of 5%, as part of efforts to speed up privatisation.

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