LONDON (Reuters) - Britain could sell a 10 percent stake in Royal Bank of Scotland as soon as this week, Sky News reported on Monday, citing banking sources.
The British government still holds a 71 percent stake in the bank after stepping in with a taxpayer bailout during the financial crisis.
Sky reported that bankers expected Britain to announce the disposal of a stake worth at least 3 billion pounds ($4 billion), but added that any share sale could be delayed by market conditions or ministers’ concerns about value for money for taxpayers.
At Friday’s closing share price of just under 290 pence, little more than half the 502 pence the government paid for them, the Treasury stands to lose billions of pounds on the sale.
The British government pumped 45.5 billion pounds into RBS in the depths of the financial crisis, and efforts since then to recoup the money have been stymied by the plunge in the bank’s share price, regulatory probes in the United States and Brexit.
In particular, a long-running investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into the bank’s mis-selling of toxic mortgage-backed securities delayed the share sale.
But RBS agreed a smaller than expected $4.9 billion settlement earlier this month, paving the way for a long-awaited return of cash to UK taxpayers.
Britain said in November it would sell 15 billion pounds of RBS shares over five years, with 3 billion pounds to be sold by the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
“We don’t comment on market speculation,” a spokesman for the finance ministry said. A spokesman for RBS declined to comment on the report
Both RBS and Lloyds were rescued during the 2007-9 financial crisis. Britain sold its remaining stake in Lloyds last year.
($1 = 0.7514 pounds)
Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Jane Merriman and Adrian Croft