Repaying RBS bail-out could take a decade - Hester

Stephen Hester said RBS had come close to collapse. Picture: PA

Stephen Hester said RBS had come close to collapse. Picture: PA

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STEPHEN Hester has warned that it could take up to a decade for taxpayers to be repaid their £45 billion stake in bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland.

In an interview published at the weekend, he said that privatising the bank, which is 81 per cent owned by the state, would be a long-term project.

He said: “My observation is that if the ultimately desired proceeds are £45bn, then there has never been a privatisation that raises that much in one go.

“So it is most likely that it would be, if you do it conventionally, four or five goes over ten years. That’s why I’ve always been confident that the state would get its £45bn back.”

Despite speculation that political pressure had forced his departure, he said he did not feel any anger about how he had been treated.

“Part of me did want to see the job fully through, did want the Champagne and roses of a successful privatisation,” Hester added.

“Another part of me thought, ‘Goodness me, this job drives me nuts from time to time and how long do I want to do it for?’

“I genuinely mean that I am comfortable with what has happened. I think RBS is in much better shape than we had any right to think it could be.”

In a memo to staff, seen by The Scotsman, Hester said last week that RBS had come “close to collapse” and that his decision to quit as chief executive had not been easy.

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