Saturday 19 January 2019

UK Government confirms sale of stake in Ulster Bank owner

The government sold some shares in 2015 and took a £1.1bn (€1.25bn) loss. Photo: PA
The government sold some shares in 2015 and took a £1.1bn (€1.25bn) loss. Photo: PA
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The UK Government has confirmed that it has disposed of a 7.7pc stake in Ulster Bank owner Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The Government raised £2.5bn (€2.8bn) at a placing price of 271p per share from the sale.

Yesterday the British Government said that it had launched a sale of 925 million shares in the bank as it seeks to return the bank to private hands.

Following the sale of the 7.7pc stake, the public holding in the bank has been reduced to 62.4pc.

As with sales of stakes in bailed out Irish banks, the RBS sale will crystallise a loss for the UK government.

It rescued RBS in 2008 at an average price of 502p a share.

UK taxpayers took a majority stake in RBS by pumping £45.5bn (€51.8bn) into the bank at the height of the financial crisis. About a third of the total rescue was used to prop up the bank's Ulster Bank arm, which was left carrying massive losses on boom era real estate, commercial property loans and mortgages after the crash.

The sale of a 7.7pc stake is being managed by Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, UK Government Investments, which manages the country's RBS holding, said.

Ahead of the sale, UK finance minister Philip Hammond had said he wanted to re-start a gradual sell down of the government's 70pc stake in the bank some time before April 2019.

The government sold some shares in 2015 and took a £1.1bn (€1.25bn) loss.

Buyers are likely to include funds that already hold some of the 30pc of the bank owned through the stock market.

The opposition Labour Party is opposed to re-privatisation of the UK bank.

"All further sales of RBS shares should be halted, and the bank reorganised under public control," the party's John McDonnell said.

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