RBS Government stake sell-off to restart within 18 months

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The Government is dusting off plans to re-privatise taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland with the aim of selling £15 billion of its shares by 2023.

It plans to restart share sales in RBS by the end of the 2018-19 financial year and sell off £3 billion a year over five years - around two-thirds of its 72% stake.

In the Budget Red Book, the Treasury said: "RBS has made significant progress on resolving its legacy issues and refocusing on serving British businesses and consumers.

"It remains the Government's objective to return the bank fully to the private sector when it represents value for money to do so and market conditions allow."

The Red Book shows the £3 billion a year boost from the RBS sale will help fund many of Chancellor Philip Hammond's Budget giveaways.

The Government said it now faces a £26.2 billion loss on its stake in RBS, down from a previous forecast of £29.2 billion in March, after a recent recovery in the value of the bank's shares.

But it will still see the Government take a hefty loss on its stake in the lender, with shares languishing well below the average 502p a share price paid at during the 2008 and 2009 bail-out - at around 271p at today's prices.

The Government has had more success recouping its bail-out cash in Lloyds Banking Group, finally fully returning the bank to private hands in May at a £900 million profit on its original investment.

The Treasury has also agreed with the European Commission in September that RBS will fund and deliver a £775 million package of measures designed to improve competition in Britain's banking market.

This is in return for scrapping EU requirements for it to offload more than 300 branches under the Williams & Glyn brand.

Last month,  RBS posted its third consecutive quarter in the black after swinging to profit over the last three months.

The bank recorded a £392 million profit for the quarter to September 30, which compares with a £469 million loss in the same period last year.