A logo sits on a sign outside a Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc office in Brighton, U.K. (Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg)

U.K. Weighs Trimming $24 Billion RBS Stake After Earnings

(Bloomberg) -- The British government is considering a partial sell-down of its Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc stake in the immediate aftermath of its annual results next week, people with knowledge of the matter said.

There is no final certainty over timing and size, the people said, declining to be identified as the details are private. The shares may have to be offered at a discount to reflect the uncertainty hanging over Brexit, and a sale is ultimately dependent on market conditions, they said.

During the financial crisis, the U.K. government injected 45.5 billion pounds ($59 billion) into RBS, the biggest banking bailout in the world at the time. The state currently owns just over 62 percent, valuing its holding at about 18.4 billion pounds ($24 billion). It plans to exit its shareholding by 2024.

Spokespeople for the government and RBS declined to comment.

“The timing of any future share sales is highly uncertain and entirely in the hands of the Treasury,” Chairman Howard Davies said at a shareholders’ meeting in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

At the meeting, RBS shareholders approved a plan that would see the bank acquire up to 5 percent of its shares when the government sells, in what it has called a “directed buyback.”

The bank is due to reports its results on Feb. 15. Shares in RBS closed down 3.9 percent Thursday at 240 pence.

A share sale at the moment would mark the cheapest price at which the U.K. has sold the bank’s stock. The first tranche of the government sell-down in 2015 achieved a price of 330 pence.

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