[LONDON] Britain may accelerate plans to start selling shares in Royal Bank of Scotland to avoid a sale clashing with the full privatisation of Lloyds Banking Group in March next year, banking and political sources said.
Government officials are examining the possibility of a first sale of RBS shares in September, the sources said, and bankers say a sale of shares worth between 3 billion and 5 billion pounds is a viable option.
However, no decisions have yet been taken, the sources said.
RBS was rescued by the government during the 2007-9 financial crisis at a cost of 45.2 billion pounds to taxpayers, leaving Britain with an 80 per cent stake.
The government wants initially to sell several billion pounds worth of RBS shares to institutions such as pension funds and insurers. In order to boost liquidity in the stock and make it more attractive to investors in future sales, this is likely to be at a loss.
However, officials are aware the move cannot coincide with plans for a final sale of shares in RBS's bailed-out rival Lloyds, expected next March, which will also see billions of pounds worth of shares sold.
Bankers say it would be virtually impossible to attract enough demand for both share sales if they were to coincide.