LONDON (Reuters) - The government is in advanced talks to sell up to a third of its holding in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) to Abu Dhabi investors, the BBC reported on Monday.
A deal near current prices could see British taxpayers lose almost half their investment as RBS shares closed at 27.8 pence, compared with the state’s average purchase price of 50 pence.
Britain pumped 45.5 billion pounds ($72.5 billion) into RBS to save it from collapse in 2008, leaving the taxpayer with an 82 percent holding. A deal could see at least 10 percent and up to a third of the government’s stake sold, the BBC said.
It said the government has for months been negotiating with Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth funds and wants a deal to be agreed by the year-end.
UK Financial Investment, which holds the government’s stake, has held regular talks with big investors about their views on the industry and RBS, which has included meetings with sovereign wealth investors, sources have said in the past.
The Treasury said on Monday its strategy was to repair and return the bank to full health. “The government’s policy has always been to return RBS to the private sector, but only when it delivers value for money for the taxpayer,” it said.
RBS and UKFI declined to comment.
Abu Dhabi invested billions of pounds in rival British bank Barclays (BARC.L) during the financial crisis, making a profit on the bet. ($1 = 0.6275 pound)
Reporting by Steve Slater and Matt Falloon; Editing by Sarah White and Dan Lalor