London, 22 July 2021
The government has just announced plans to sell more of its stake in Natwest, despite shares being worth less than half what they were when taxpayers bailed out the bank after the financial crisis.
Taxpayers bailed out Natwest for £45.5bn more than a decade ago, and it’s market value now stands at £23bn. The government has said shares “will only be sold at a price that represents value for money for taxpayers”.
Public ownership of Natwest has already fallen from 84% in 2009 to 54.7%. Further sales would mean the government losing its majority stake in the bank.
Simon Youel, head of policy and advocacy at Positive Money, said:
“The enormous decrease in NatWest’s share price since the bailout would mean that we’re getting less than half what we paid for it, making the government’s promise that shares “will only be sold at a price that represents value for money for taxpayers” impossible to keep.
“Instead of selling at a loss, the government should take advantage of its stake in NatWest to make the bank work in the public interest. Left to their own devices, Britain’s big shareholder owned banks will simply prioritise bidding up asset prices rather than productive investment. As we recover from Covid we will need banks that are willing and able to support small businesses and the real economy more than ever.
“Selling now would be another missed opportunity to truly build back better and level up the country.”
- A 2019 poll by Positive Money found that fewer than 1 in 10 Britons supported the government’s strategy to sell-off RBS (now NatWest) at a loss: https://positivemoney.org/2019/02/only-one-in-ten-britons-support-governments-rbs-strategy/
- Positive Money is a research and campaign organisation working towards a money and banking system which supports a fair, democratic and sustainable economy. Set up in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Positive Money is a not-for-profit company funded by charitable trusts and foundations, as well as small donations from its network of over 65,000 supporters. www.positivemoney.org.
- For more information from Positive Money or to arrange a briefing/interview with a spokesperson, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Anna Pick on 07948802104.