George Osborne gets an opportunity to sell off another chunk of shares in RBS at the end of this month when the 90-day period from the last – and first – sell-down ends.
But another way to reduce the taxpayer stake in Royal Bank of Scotland would be for the bailed-out bank to buy back the shares itself.
It is an idea that Ross McEwan, the boss of RBS, has raised before but on Tuesday he suggested it again during a presentation to City analysts and investors.
Any repatriation of capital by this means – or by dividends – is unlikely to take place before the first quarter of 2017, he said, and made clear that the board had not yet agreed any particular strategy.
But he said: “My personal view is I would rather participate as the government is selling down, be part of that exercise and at some stage put a dividend policy in place. It’s probably the best thing for all investors when excess capital goes back through buybacks”.
In August the chancellor started to extricate the taxpayer from its 79% stake by selling off enough shares to cut the stake to 73%. There was a £1bn hit to the taxpayer as the shares were sold at price lower than was paid for them during the 2008 crisis.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 29th September 2015 14.20 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010