George Osborne could begin the sell-off of RBS early next year, marking the start of Europe’s biggest every privatisation, as my colleagues report this morning. If the bank is profitable by the turn of the year – and if the share price is substantially higher – an initial tranche of £5bn could be sold.
Intriguingly, I’m hearing separately that Lloyds Banking Group could be even earlier off the blocks, with ministers keen to start the LBG sell-off first. In theory this process could begin before Christmas.
Then again, progress at RBS and LBG alike have to wait for the Vickers banking review in September; a decision to dismantle the Lloyds-HBOS merger (which is possible) could set back the Lloyds privatisation by quite some time.