Britain considers giving RBS shares to public

  • The British government is considering giving away its stake in state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland by 2015, according to newspaper reports on Friday.

    The government owns 82 percent of RBS after rescuing the bank with $70 billion of capital when it was near collapse in 2008.

    In October, the bank said it was preparing to sell the shares in 2014, a year before the next general election. 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.

    Meanwhile, the Daily Mail said the plan was being mulled over Economic Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid, and could involve giving shares away next year or selling the shares to the public at a discount.

    In 2011, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg supported proposals to give the public shares in part-nationalized banks because taxpayer money had been used to keep the banking system going.

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