Banking Crisis

UK Government's NatWest Stake No Longer A "Controlling" One

Editorial Staff 26 March 2024

UK Government's NatWest Stake No Longer A

A stake of 30 per cent or more is defined under UK listing rules, so it is reported, as a controlling stake. The UK now owns less than that amount of the bank, one of the major groups in the UK financial sector.

The UK government’s stake in NatWest Group – parent of Coutts – has fallen below 30 per cent to 29.8 per cent. This means that the state is no longer regarded as being a controlling shareholder in the UK lender.

The government is continuing to reduce its stake in the lender – formerly known as Royal Bank of Scotland – that was taken in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. 

NatWest repurchased £1.3 billion ($1.64 billion) worth of the shares through a directed buyback in May. Last week it asked shareholders to approve a plan that would allow it to buy back its stock from the UK state even more rapidly. 

“We welcome the government’s continued commitment to returning NatWest Group to private ownership. With the government shareholding now below 30 per cent, we have been pleased with the recent momentum to achieving this shared ambition, which we believe is in the best interests of the bank and our shareholders," a spokesperson for NatWest Group said in an emailed statement to this news service.

The government’s ownership of NatWest Group was 37.98 per cent at the end of last year and at the end of 2022, it was 45.9 per cent.

The banking group was rocked last year by revelations that broadcaster and former UKIP party leader Nigel Farage was “de-banked” by Coutts in circumstances suggesting his political views were a factor. The unfolding of the saga led to the resignations of NatWest’s CEO of the time, Alison Rose, and Coutts’s CEO, Peter Flavel. Both individuals have been replaced. In early February, Flavel's full-time successor, Emma Crystal, was announced.

NatWest issued fourth-quarter financial results here.

The government confirmed its plan to return NatWest to private ownership by 2025/2026 in its spring budget earlier in March. This could include a potential retail offer that could take place as early as this summer.

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