UK government in talks with brokers to help market NatWest shares to the public | NatWest Group

The UK government is reportedly in talks with brokers including AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown to help it market its shares in NatWest to retail investors, while exploring possible options to sell its stake in the bank.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said in his autumn statement last November that the government would “explore options” to sell its remaining stake in the British banking group – currently at just under 33% – and would consider inviting public to buy shares. .

The government has entered into preliminary negotiations with a number of brokers, including AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown, to help sell the shares to retail investors and has asked the companies to sign non-disclosure agreements. according to Bloomberg, who was the first to report the development. The Treasury declined to comment.

In November, the chancellor said he would review options for a retail share offering within 12 months, but that this would be “subject to favorable market conditions and good value for money”.

In his speechHunt referenced the mass privatizations of the 1980s – when shares in British Gas were advertised to the public with the slogan “If you see Sid… tell him” – telling MPs: “It’s time for Sid to invest again. »

Speculation is growing that Hunt will use next week’s Budget to announce more details of a public share sale, which UK Government Investments says could take place as early as June.

In a retail offering, the shares would be offered to members of the public and not just institutional investors. The Chancellor told Parliament last November that NatWest’s retail share offering was part of new capital market reforms aimed at maintaining the UK as an attractive center to set up and list a business.

The government has owned part of NatWest since the 2008 financial crisis, when it took an 84% stake in the then Royal Bank of Scotland Group to bail out the bank, but has since steadily sold its stake. Shares in NatWest rose 1% in early trading on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the bank reported its biggest annual profit since the 2007 financial crisis, thanks to rising interest rates, with pre-tax profits rising 20% ​​to £6.2 billion sterling during the year until December 2023.

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The bank also confirmed that Paul Thwaite would become chief executive of NatWest after his predecessor Alison Rose was forced to resign last July following a row with politician Nigel Farage.

AJ Bell was contacted but declined to comment. Hargreaves Lansdown has been contacted for comment.

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