Treasury has held talks about selling a stake in Royal Bank of Scotland to Abu Dhabi, it emerged last night.
Officials have spoken to the emirate’s sovereign wealth funds over the course of several months. Sources said, however, that talks have not reached an advanced stage and a deal is not imminent.
The government owns 82 per cent of RBS after bailing it out with £45bn in 2008. The sale of a small stake could pave the way for a full privatisation and increase private sector interest by highlighting demand for the stock.
RBS shares remain well below the 49.9p average price paid by the state, however, and closed down one per cent at 27.75p last night, meaning taxpayers remain out of pocket.
Earlier this month RBS chief executive Stephen Hester said “the faster the government starts selling its stake, the better for everyone”.
A Treasury spokesman said: “The aim is to repair and return RBS to full health so that it is able to support the UK economy in the future, and the current strategy is working to achieve that. The government’s policy has always been to return RBS to the private sector, but only when it delivers value for money for the taxpayer.”