Ministers could launch a multi-billion pound sale of NatWest shares as early as June.
This means the retail offering, open to ordinary investors – and reminiscent of the “Tell Sid” privatizations of the 1980s – could take place before the autumn general election.
NatWest remains 36 per cent government-owned following its rescue during the financial crisis.
The Treasury gradually sold its stake. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt first revealed in November that the government would “explore options” for a retail share offering.
This is part of a plan to divest the entire stake by 2025/26. At the same time, the sale of shares aims to revive public interest in investment.
Sell-off: June is seen as a likely summer date, following the bank’s first quarter results in April and ahead of its half-year results in July.
The Sunday Times reported that the government had awarded a contract to a market research company to gauge public opinion, while it had also invited tenders from PR firms and agencies advertising to work on launching the sale of shares.
He said shares in NatWest, which is still looking for a new permanent chief executive, should be valued at a discount to increase their public appeal.
June is seen as a likely summer date, following the bank’s first quarter results in April and ahead of its half-year results in July.
A government spokesperson said the sale of the shares was “subject to market conditions and good value for money” and further details would be revealed “in due course”.