Royal Bank of Scotland is preparing the way for the government to sell down its 79% stake by asking shareholders to approve the cost of producing any documents and fees associated with the process.
In a notice to its annual general meeting on 23 June in Edinburgh, the outgoing chairman, Sir Philip Hampton, has asked shareholders to vote on a resolution giving the bank permission for a so-called related party transaction.
However, Hampton said the authority should have been sought in 2009 when the taxpayer bought £45bn of shares in the bank. No information is provided about why the permission was not sought five years ago.
The chancellor, George Osborne, has yet to set out details about selling any of the stake in RBS but said that if he was still in the Treasury after the general election he would sell the holding “as quickly as we can”.
Osborne told the Financial Times in March that any sale could take years “but it’s certainly something I would want to get moving on in the summer after the election. I would want to see a review on a plan for disposal.”
In the past, the chancellor has used his Mansion House speech in June to outline ideas for the banking sector.
Hampton did not indicate a share sale was imminent, but said: “Whilst the implementation and timing of any sell-down by HM Treasury will be determined at the sole discretion of HM Treasury, the board is of the view that it is important and in the best interests of the company to be able to provide such assistance when required.”
The notice to the AGM spells out that RBS could be “required to prepare and publish one or more prospectuses or other disclosure, listing or marketing documents”.
“The company may also be required to bear certain offering expenses and to provide contractual protections to HM Treasury, any underwriting or bookrunning banks and/or other advisers (and any of their respective affiliates), including in the form of representations, warranties, covenants and indemnities,” the notice said.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Thursday 21st May 2015 20.04 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010