Royal Bank of Scotland chair hints Brexit turmoil will delay government sale

Jake Cordell
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RBS is 73 per cent owned by the UK government
RBS is 73 per cent owned by the UK government (Source: Getty)

The boss of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has predicted it will be some time before the government can start to sell off its shares in the bank.

Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the lender, which is 73 per cent taxpayer-owned, told the BBC it was “realistic” to think the government will have delayed its plans given the dramatic fall in RBS’ share price since the EU referendum.

The government had originally hoped to offload the majority of its stake by the end of this parliament. But with the shares currently worth just 150p, compared to 250p the day before the vote, and a period of heightened uncertainty ahead, that timeline now looks unlikely.

“The market thinks there is going to be a slowdown in the UK economy, and if you are a big domestic bank you can't hide from what's going on,” Davies said.

Ian Gordon, head of banks research at Investec said the timeline on the sale of RBS now looked “longer than ever”.

On paper, taxpayers have lost £8.5bn since 23 June due to the fall in the value of RBS shares, and had another £1.5bn wiped off the value of the government’s 9.2 per cent stake in Lloyds.

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