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Natwest Shares Could Be Sold to Public, Says Hunt

The government is considering selling some of its remaining shares in NatWest to the general public, the chancellor has said.

In the Autumn Statement, Jeremy Hunt said he would “explore options” for a retail share offer in the next year.

However, he added any sale would be “subject to market conditions and achieving full value for money”.

The Treasury still owns 39% of the firm after a £46bn bailout of the bank during the 2008 financial crisis.

In a reference to the privatisations of the 1980s, when shares in British Gas were sold to the public with the slogan “Tell Sid”, Mr Hunt told the Commons it was “time to get Sid investing again”.

The government has been gradually reducing its shareholding since 2008, when it bailed out the firm – then known as Royal Bank of Scotland.

It said earlier this year that it wanted to sell its remaining stake in the bank by 2025 or 2026.

A spokeswoman for NatWest said: “Any decisions around share sales are a matter for the government.

“We welcome the government’s continued commitment to returning NatWest Group to private ownership and believe this is in the best interests of the bank and our shareholders.”

NatWest’s share price is down by almost a third since January, and fell sharply last month after it cut its profit outlook.

The bank has also had a difficult year following a row over the closure of former Brexit party leader Nigel Farage’s bank account.

The episode led to its chief executive, Dame Alison Rose, resigning after admitting she had made a mistake in speaking about Mr Farage’s relationship with the bank.

Source : BBC