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UK government delays plan to sell NatWest shares by two years

The UK Treasury has put plans to return NatWest to private hands on hold for two years after uncertainty in the banking sector has depressed share value.

The UK government currently owns around 42%, down from 84% at its peak, of NatWest Group after taking over the bank following the financial crisis of 2008. That bailout cost the taxpayer £45.5 billion.

The government bought its stake in NatWest at 502p per share. Today they are worth around 268p, having fallen 9% in the past month alone.

Now, rather than offload a 15% stake in the group in August this year, HM Treasury has pushed this back to August 2025 and will continue to sell shares under the trading plan set up by then chancellor Rishi Sunak in 2021.

“The government will only dispose of its NatWest Group shareholding when it represents value for money to do so and market conditions allow,” HM Treasury says.

The government now has an extra two years to sell shares in the group and return it to private ownership. Since August 2021, more than £3.7 billion has been raised.

Economic secretary to the treasury Andrew Griffith says: “Today’s extension marks another significant milestone in delivering this – ensuring we achieve best value for the taxpayer as we sell down the shareholding.”

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