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RBS chairman says Govt will be able to start sell-off by next election

BBA panel

Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Sir Philip Hampton says the Government will be able to start selling off the bank before the next general election.

Speaking at a panel debate at the British Bankers’ Association annual conference in London last week, Hampton said it is a “reasonable aspiration” for the Government to start selling its 82 per cent stake in the lender by 2015, the latest the next general election can be staged.

Hampton (pictured third from right) said: “We set out, four years ago, a five-year programme to restore RBS to full independent financial health. I think we are now on track to fulfil those objectives. I think by the end of next year all of the basic construction work will be completed. Obviously, it is up to the Government to decide when to sell the shares, it is our job to put the bank in a position for the decision to be taken.

“I think it is a reasonable aspiration to start selling the shares before the next election.”

The Government bailed out RBS in October 2008 with £45.4bn of taxpayers’ money, to prevent it from collapsing following its near-ruinous acquisition of ABN Amro.

Last week, RBS exited the asset protection scheme, which was set up at the height of the crisis to protect participating lenders from big losses on their assets.

Emba group sales and marketing director Mike Fitzgerald says: “When it is placed back into private ownership we could see more competitive rates for borrowers.”

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