NatWest will buy back 1.1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) of its shares from the British government, edging the state-backed lender further towards private hands as the government pushes to fully sell off banks bailed out in the financial crisis.

The sale crystallises a further loss of around 1.8 billion pounds for the government on its 45-billion-pound rescue of NatWest. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecast in March the government would make an overall loss of about 39 billion pounds on the bailout once finance costs were factored in.

NatWest, formerly Royal Bank of Scotland, will be 59.8% government-owned after the deal, down from 62% previously. The price of the transaction was yesterday’s share price close of 190.5 pence, well below the 502 pence bailout level.

“We believe this is a good use of capital for the bank and our shareholders,” NatWest CEO Alison Rose said on Friday.

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Source: Private Equity Wire