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Coffee House

Selling RBS

16 February 2013

3:17 PM

16 February 2013

3:17 PM

The state owning banks is not a good thing. It is, as the annual row over bonuses at RBS demonstrates, very difficult to keep politics out of the running of the business. So, it’s encouraging news that the Treasury is moving to sell the government’s 82 percent stake as soon as possible.

Today, the Mail and The Independent report that George Osborne is considering simply handing over the shares to taxpayers, who would then be able to sell them when they at a time of their choosing. As I wrote earlier this month, Osborne is very keen to avoid a row over RBS bonuses in February 2015, just three months before the general election. The return of RBS to the private sector would also be a politically potent symbol that the coalition has guided the nation through the worst of the economic storm.

But one thing the government might well do is sell the shares in tranches, to avoid depressing their price.

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