Government begins RBS shares sell-off

The UK government has kick started the sale of its stake in bailed-out lender Royal Bank of Scotland, with the disposal of £2 billion worth of shares to institutional investors.

The government has kickstarted its sale of £2 billion worth of RBS shares. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

UK Financial Investments, the body that holds the taxpayer’s stake in the bank, said this afternoon that it would sell about 600 million shares, representing 5.2 per cent of RBS, in a quick-fire sale to institutions.

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The government owns about 78 per cent of the bank following its £45.8bn rescue at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

The start of the sell-off had been widely anticipated after Chancellor George Osborne said recently he was keen to begin disposing of shares as soon as possible, and aimed to offload at least three-quarters of the holding over the next five years.