NatWest share offer – FAQs

During the fallout of the 2008 global financial crisis, the UK government propped up a number of the UK’s largest banks including NatWest, then known as Royal Bank of Scotland.

Fast forward to today, and the UK government is expected to give UK retail investors a small window of opportunity to snap up some of the shares at a discounted price.

There is a growing belief that the government wants to accelerate the sale of NatWest shares to the general public (a process known as a share offer). 

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said that investors could see a multi-billion pound NatWest retail share offer in 2024. Media reports have suggested this could take place in the early summer.

The government currently has a 36% stake in the bank, down from a peak of 84% in 2008.

The return of NatWest to private ownership nearly fifteen years on has been hotly anticipated by investors.

When will the NatWest share offer happen?

There are three factors at play with the timing of this share offer.

First, the Treasury set itself a deadline of 2025/2026 to fully privatise the bank. There’s no reason this deadline can’t move but it does hint at the government hoping to offload the shares sooner rather than later.

Second, a deadline the government can’t move – the general election. The next United Kingdom general election must be held no later than 28 January 2025. It’s unlikely the government would want the distraction of Christmas in the middle of a campaign. Rishi Sunak recently stated that his “working assumption is we'll have a general election in the second half of this year”. This has led most commentators to expect an Autumn election.

While an election date might seem irrelevant, it’s not. A share offer will boost government coffers, deliver on a promise and, they hope, offer a ‘good news’ story to voters before they head to the ballot boxes.

Third, larger government programmes traditionally occur outside of the summer recess (which starts in July).

All these factors point towards a NatWest share offer taking place in June this year. However, this isn’t guaranteed, and consensus may yet change.

How can I participate in the NatWest share offer?

The details of the share offer including how investors can participate are still unconfirmed. In previous share offers the government have instructed financial institutions such as Barclays to act as an intermediary, taking orders for the shares allocating them to clients' investment accounts.

As soon as further information becomes available we will let our customers know.

What is the investment potential for NatWest shares?

When you buy shares you’re buying a stake in a business and successful investing starts with understanding the business you’re buying in to. Investors should look out for the bank’s annual results, released 16 February, to learn more about its current position and outlook.

Any NatWest retail offer is expected to include a discounted share offer. This means that shares will be available at a lower price than the current market price. A discounted price does offer a potential for profit, but as always, investors must weigh various factors.

First and foremost, whenever you invest your capital is at risk. This share offer is no different.

What are the risks of investing in a share offer?

Buying shares isn’t right for everyone.

Unlike funds, where your money is spread across a number of companies, when you buy shares in an individual company the value of your investment is tied to a single business.

Before you invest in shares, either as part of a share offer or by purchasing them on the open market, please make sure you understand the company you’re investing in, and the specific risks associated with that business. As shares themselves are not a diversified investment you should consider purchasing them as part of a diversified portfolio.

All investments and any income they produce may rise and fall in value, so you could make a loss. If you’re not sure of an investment's suitability for your circumstances, please speak to a financial adviser.

Barclays expertise and share offers

Barclays has been supporting customers in the UK for over 330 years and we’re committed to making sure investors are well informed and supported.

We have expert knowledge and experience of share offers, as we have participated as an intermediary in over 100 retail new offers including Direct Line, Royal Mail and Pets at home.

When you become a customer, you can sign up to receive investment inspiration and insights, and hear analysis from our investment professionals about the market trends and events that could help you make more informed investment decisions.

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