Britain pours cold water on RBS reports

LONDON Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:58pm IST

People walk past a Royal Bank of Scotland office in London February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall

People walk past a Royal Bank of Scotland office in London February 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Neil Hall

Related Topics

Stocks

   

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's finance minister George Osborne on Saturday dismissed newspaper reports the government was planning to give away its stake in state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) by 2015, saying such discussions were "premature."

Britain owns 82 percent of RBS after rescuing the bank by pumping in 45 billion pounds of capital when it neared collapse in 2008.

Newspapers reported on Saturday that Osborne and Treasury ministers were planning to sell off shares to the public at a discount or even give away the government's majority stake ahead of parliamentary elections due in 2015.

But speaking in Moscow where G20 finance ministers are meeting, Osborne poured cold water on the reports, saying such options would not be considered until the share price reached the level the former Labour government paid for them.

"It's just a premature discussion about what to do with the shares," Osborne told Sky News.

"We've got to get the Royal Bank of Scotland to a point where it is worth what the taxpayer paid then we can have a big national discussion about what to do with the shares and how to return it to the private sector."

RBS shares closed at 3.44 pounds on Friday, well below an average price nearer to 5 pounds the government paid for its stake.

In October, the bank said it was preparing to sell the shares in 2014, one year before the election, with the timing and sale structure up to the government. No share giveaway was mentioned.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, the coalition government's junior partner, backed proposals in 2011 to give the public shares in part-nationalised banks because taxpayer money had been used to keep the banking system alive.

At the time, the Treasury said it would "look at all options", but critics dismissed the idea as a headline-grabbing exercise.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by James Jukwey)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Canada Shooting

Canada Shooting

Attack on parliament, killing of soldier stun Canada's capital.  Full Article 

Earnings Season

Earnings Season

Wipro sees rosier end to year as U.S. clients spend.  Full Article 

Business Climate

Business Climate

Fears for tough penalties grow as India cleans up business  Full Article 

New Email Service

New Email Service

Google launches new email service dubbed "Inbox".  Full Article 

DLF Appeals

DLF Appeals

DLF seeks interim relief from capital market ban  Full Article 

Falling Oil Prices

Falling Oil Prices

Indian consumers respond to softer oil, food prices  Full Article 

Book Keeping

Book Keeping

RBI fires warning shots on companies' lack of FX hedging.  Full Article 

Policy Repo Rate

Policy Repo Rate

Most external members suggested rate cut in RBI's Sept review.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage