Ulster Bank parent company Royal Bank of Scotland has given up control of Direct Line Group after selling more than £500m worth of shares in the insurer.
The disposal beats an EU deadline of later this year for RBS to reduce its holding in the Churchill and Privilege owner to below 50%.
The state-owned bank first sold shares in Direct Line in October and has now reduced the holding from around 65% to just over 48% as a result of the sale of 252.3m shares at a price of 201p.
It must divest of the entire company by the end of 2014 as part of conditions attached to its £45bn taxpayer bailout.
The original float raised £787m for RBS and was followed by a rise in the insurer's share price from 175p to a high of 225p in January.