GAINS in Royal Bank of Scotland shares bolstered Britain’s top equity index yesterday on news it would be returned to private hands sooner than expected, while shares in Royal Mail fell after the government sold half its stake at a discount.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed up 0.2 per cent at 6,846.74 points. The index erased some of its gains in tandem with European equities as optimism over a Greek debt deal turned sour with negative comments from the International Monetary Fund.
Royal Mail was the biggest FTSE loser, down 4.5 per cent after the British government said it would sell half of its remaining stake in the company, leaving it with about 15 per cent of the postal service.
The stock fell to 493.3p from 516.5p after the government sold the shares at 500p each, a discount to Wednesday’s close.
Royal Bank of Scotland gained 1.9 per cent after finance minister George Osborne said Britain would start selling its £32bn stake. The sale plan represents a milestone in terms of RBS’s recovery.