Home Money July general election puts NatWest government share sale in doubt

July general election puts NatWest government share sale in doubt

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Share sale: At its peak, taxpayers' stake in Natwest was 84%

Share sale: At its peak, taxpayers’ stake in Natwest was 84%

Plans to sell government shares in NatWest have been thrown into doubt following the announcement of a general election in July.

Officials had been working on a retail offer sometime next month, ahead of the half-year results in July.

But now in June there will be an election campaign in full swing, meaning the plan is likely to be put on ice. Last night officials remained silent on a possible announcement from the Treasury.

Planning by UK Government Investments (UKGI), which manages the Government’s involvement, has been underway for months.

Advisers on the project include Barclays and advertising agency M&C Saatchi, brought in to lead a marketing campaign ahead of a launch that may have been a couple of weeks away.

But a source acknowledged that the sale would not take place this summer. Another told Sky News it was “now frozen”.

It will then be up to the next Government, which according to polls will be led by Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves, to decide whether to reactivate the sale.

This raises the possibility of Labor overseeing a process that echoes the privatizations of the 1980s, epitomized by the ‘Tell Sid’ advertising campaign, when British Gas and British Telecom were sold.

A Labor spokesperson had not yet responded to a request for comment last night. Gary Greenwood, a banking analyst at Shore Capital, said the election could “potentially” derail the stock sale as it leaves “a very short timeframe” to complete it.

He added: “A new government, if Labor (as seems likely), might want to follow a different path.”

The Treasury has owned a significant stake in the lender since bailing it out during the 2008 financial crisis.

At its peak, taxpayer participation reached 84 percent.

It is now just under 27 per cent and the Government has committed to exiting its stake before the 2025/26 financial year.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed in the March Budget that a public share sale would take place this summer. NatWest shares are up 43 per cent this year.

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