George Osborne announced this evening that the government is to merge the two bodies that manage the majority of the taxpayer’s stakes in businesses into one company.
In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry, the Chancellor said the Shareholder Executive (ShEx) and UK Financial Investments (UKFI) would be made into one holding company, UKGI. Osborne also said the government would focus on boosting productivity.
ShEX is the body that runs the government’s financial interests in state-owned businesses, and UKFI, is responsible for the government’s shares in UK banks.
The plan is to allow government experts to work together in order to realise the government plan of selling off a wide range of publically-owned assets, including the sale of shares in Lloyds Banking Group, UK Asset Resolution assets, Eurostar and the pre-2012 income contingent repayment student loan book.
If we want a more productive economy, let’s get the government out of the business of owning great chunks of our banking system – and indeed other assets that should be in the private sector. To help that happen I can tell you that we’re merging UK Financial Investments and the Shareholder Executive into one organisation, to return government investments back to the private sector.
The government also aims to use the merger to manage publicly-run bodies more effectively, and learn from private-sector expertise.