Citizens' flotation offers vindication for both ex-RBS boss Hester and Osborne

Osborne And Hester

Chancellor George Osborne wanted Royal Bank of Scotland to hurry up and get rid of Citizens, its US bank, and concentrate on being a UK-focused lender. Former chief executive Stephen Hester didn't want to rush the process and thought RBS's capital position would be better served by waiting for Citizens' value to recover.

That, at least, seemed to be one strand of the disagreements that preceded Hester's exit last year. Details, unfortunately, are murky – it suits everybody to pretend that the Treasury, despite the state's 81% shareholding, wasn't dictating strategy to the RBS board.

But now Citizens is finally being dispatched via a stock flotation in the US, both sides of the alleged quarrel could claim some vindication. A year on, RBS thinks Citizens will be valued at $14bn (£8.5bn), or a slight premium to book value. That's a lot better than analysts had feared and RBS shares recovered from early referendum jitters to close just 1.3% weaker.

Only 25% of Citizens is being sold in the first bundle, and RBS will have to show it can rid itself of the rest in time at similarly capital-enhancing levels. But, so far, the passage of time seems to have worked in RBS's favour.

Powered by article was written by Nils Pratley, for The Guardian on Monday 8th September 2014 18.24 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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