George Osborne to sell off RBS at potential £14bn loss
Seven years after the global financial crash, the Government is to begin selling off its majority stake in the bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland, Chancellor George Osborne has announced.
RBS is the parent of Ulster Bank, which has nearly two million customers throughout Ireland.
Mr Osborne admitted the Government's 79% stake would go for less than the £45.5bn spent bailing the bank out to prevent its collapse in the wake of the crash of 2008.
The stake is currently worth £31.6bn - a potential £14bn loss to taxpayers.
He said the "decision point" had been reached after an independent review by City bank Rothschild concluded the losses to the taxpayer would be more than offset by the profits on other bank share sales, including its stake in the Lloyds Banking Group.
The move has been endorsed by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney who warned that delaying the start of the sale could lead to the taxpayer losing even more.
In his annual Mansion House speech to the City, Mr Osborne said that the first offering - to take place in the coming months - would be to the financial institutions only.
Mr Osborne said selling the RBS stake is "the right thing to do for British businesses and British taxpayers".
"Yes, we may get a lower price than Labour paid for it. But the longer we wait, the higher the price the whole economy will pay," he said.
"Now is the time for RBS to rebuild itself as a commercial bank no longer reliant on the state, but serving the working people of Britain."