LONDON, Sept 22 The UK government has not set a
sale timetable or revenue targets for its shares in Britain's
part- and fully nationalised banks, reducing the risks attached
to a disposal, an official at the body managing the stakes said.
John Crompton, head of market investments at UK Financial
Investments (UKFI), said there were no targets along the lines
of those set by Margaret Thatcher's government at the height of
the 1980s privatisation spree.
"We are not acting under direction regarding the price at
which we can sell or the rate at which we should sell. Unlike
the position 25 years ago, the Treasury is very cautious about
assuming proceeds from transactions which are inherently
uncertain in making projections for public finances," he told a
conference organised by IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.
"There are no projections, no assumptions, and hence no
targets to hit. This greatly reduces the risk of our undertaking
transactions which do not represent best value for the
taxpayer," he said on Tuesday.
His comments are likely to go some way to ease industry
speculation of pressure from the current Labour government to at
least begin the disposal process ahead of a general election,
due by next June, and possibly before markets stabilise.
UKFI, set up last December, handles Britain's 70 percent
stake in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) and its 43 percent
holding in Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) which it got after
pumping 37 billion pounds into the lenders.
UKFI, described by its former boss Glen Moreno as a
"Fidelity with nuclear weapons" will also manage
fully-nationalised bank Northern Rock and failed mortgage lender
Bradford & Bingley's loan book, pending European approval.
(Reporting by Clara Ferreira-Marques and Steve Slater; Editing
by Jon Loades-Carter)