Hester warns it will take 10 years to make money back on RBS sale

Tim Wallace
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THE GOVERNMENT will need to sell down its stake in RBS if it wants to make back the money spent on bailing out the lender, the bank’s chief executive Stephen Hester said over the weekend.

Hester, who is leaving RBS in around six months’ time after pressure from the Treasury, said he is pleased with progress at the state-backed bank.

“I think RBS is in much better shape than we had any right to think it could be,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

“I want the company to have a good future and I want to pass the baton on smoothly and without rancour or difficulty.”

But the size of the government’s 81 per cent stake means the sale cannot be completed rapidly.

He believes four or five partial sales over a decade represent the best way of ridding the government of its holding.

“If the ultimately desired proceeds are £45bn, then there has never been a privatisation that raises that much in one go,” Hester said.

“It is most likely that it would be, if you do it conventionally, four or five goes over 10 years. “