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Hester calls on government to sell RBS shares as soon as possible


RBS chief executive reiterates it is a matter for the government

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The government should start the sale of its shares in the Royal Bank of Scotland as soon as possible, the bank's chief executive said on Thursday.

Speculation has been growing that the government could sell its 82 percent stake in RBS at a loss.

Stephen Hester (pictured), who was speaking at a conference organised by the British Chambers of Commerce, told Reuters: "The faster the government starts selling its stake, the better for everyone."

However, he reiterated that it is a matter for the government.

"The government have got to decide when to sell and at what price," he said.

The previous government bailed out the bank with around £45 billion of taxpayers' money during the 2008 credit crisis.

The average price at which the taxpayer acquired its stake in RBS was 49.90 pence, and RBS shares have traded stubbornly below that price, meaning taxpayers are billions of pounds out of pocket.

The government also wants to sell its 40 percent stake in Lloyds , the other major bank which was part-nationalised after a £20 billion rescue in 2008, but a full disposal of its takes in both banks could be years away.

Those stakes are managed by the government's UKFI body, which this week signalled that an initial sale of RBS shares could take place sooner than expected, even though this would lead to a loss for the taxpayer.

RBS shares closed down 0.3 percent at 26.47 pence - leaving taxpayers sitting on a loss of some £20 billion on their RBS stake.

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Hester calls on government to sell RBS shares as soon as possible
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