Chancellor George Osborne is getting ready to put a former City banker in charge of selling off the government’s shares in Lloyds Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
City A.M. understands that Oliver Holbourn, head of capital markets at UK Financial Investments (UKFI) is in line to be named the new chief executive of the body tasked with offloading government assets.
The hire is subject to final approval from Whitehall officials and likely to be confirmed within months. It will be a promotion for Holbourn, who first joined UKFI in 2013 from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he was the bank’s UK head of equity capital markets.
James Leigh-Pemberton will remain UKFI's executive chairman, according to a source close to the decision.
Holbourn has been a central a figure in the Treasury’s efforts to sell off shares in Lloyds in the last two years, and sources say the promotion should be seen as recognition for his work on the project.
The government still holds on to a 9 per cent stake in Lloyds, worth around £4bn. The chancellor said last month that further sales of the government’s shares would be postponed due to volatility in the equity markets.
The Treasury also retains a 73 per cent shareholding in RBS, valued at more than £20bn.
Osborne has said he wants to sell £25bn of RBS shares alone by the end of the decade, although the bank's share price will need to rise sharply between now and 2020 if the Treasury is to meet its target.
Sky News first reported Holbourn’s hire earlier today.
The Treasury declined to comment.