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Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:33 PM

Britain mulls giving RBS shares to public - report

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - In a move that might lift the spirits of cash-strapped Britons before the next general election, the government is considering giving away its stake in state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland by 2015, newspapers reported on Friday.

The government owns 82 percent of RBS after rescuing the bank by pumping in 45 billion pounds ($70 billion) of capital when it neared collapse in 2008.

In October the bank said it was preparing to sell the shares in 2014, one year before the next general election, with the timing and sale structure up to the government. No share giveaway was mentioned.

"Plans to sell off or even 'give away' the government's majority stake in Royal Bank of Scotland before the next election are being drawn up by (finance minister) George Osborne's Treasury," Britain's Independent newspaper said in an advance copy of its Saturday front page, which gave no sourcing details.

Read more: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/02/15/uk-britain-rbs-shares-idUKBRE91E15920130215

George Osborne’s RBS exit plan: £400 share gift for every taxpayer to woo voters.

The Chancellor George Osborne has ordered Treasury officials to draw up plans for a Government “give-away” of Royal Bank of Scotland shares to boost the economy – and the Coalition's electoral prospects – by 2015.

Mr Osborne has concluded that continued taxpayer ownership of the bank is politically "untenable" amid rows over bankers' bonuses, interest-rate manipulation and the mis-selling of financial products. Advisers also believe that there is no realistic prospect of the Government recouping its full £45bn investment in the bank and are proposing a scheme to "hand it back to taxpayers" as early as 2015.

Under one plan being developed, every taxpayer or voter in Britain would be given shares in RBS that would be worth, according to one Treasury insider, between £300 and £400 at current prices.

Another option would be for phased disposal or attempts to place the shares in the market – allowing the public to invest their own money in the company but at a discount to the share price at the time. A hybrid scheme could also be developed.


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