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RBS chief: Taxpayers must profit from bank bailout
by Deborah Hyde on Jul 13, 2010 at 15:40
Stephen Hester says taxpayers can and should make a profit on the banking bailout, but new Treasury Committee chairman, Andrew Tyrie, says the government should instead focus on improving competition.
The UK taxpayer can and should make a profit on the banking bailout, Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester said today.
'On the issue of unwinding public support for the banking system, it is clearly in the public interest that this be successfully achieved and at a profit to the public purse,' Hester told the annual British Banker's Association conference, adding he believes this is 'achievable'.
The head of the 83% state-owned bank gave no further details. There have been reports that the government is planning to sell shares in the part state-owned banks at a discount to the public. RBS chairman Philip Hampton has said he believes the government will start selling its stake in 2011.
RBS shares rose above the price the government paid for its stake in the spring. That fuelled speculation the government would sell shares as soon as this year but recent concerns about European government debt and worries about the global economy have pulled shares lower and the rumours have died down.
Competition over profits
But Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Committee, said he hopes the government will not focus on how much money it can make from selling the stakes and should instead understand the benefits of increasing competition in the UK.
'I hope the government prioritises competition over yield,’ he said.
Tyrie said forsaking an immediate capital gain would improve competition and be better for consumers who have less choice since a number of banks and building societies merged and some lenders exited the UK market.
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