THE UK Government has sold off further shares in Royal Bank of Scotland owner NatWest Group.

The latest sale trims the public’s stake in the Edinburgh-based institution by a further five per cent, taking it down to 54.8 per cent.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has authorised the sale of 580 million shares at 190p per share, raising a total of £1.1 billion.

It is the UK Government’s fourth sale of its NatWest holding, and comes shortly the sale of 591 million shares in March, which reduced its stake to nearly 60%. The directed buyback, which saw NatWest buy shares at 190.5p each, raised £1.1bn for the Treasury.

UK taxpayers took a majority stake in Royal Bank of Scotland when the bank was saved from collapse by a £45.5bn bailout from the Government at the height of the financial crisis.

That left the then Labour Government with an 84% holding, having acquired the shares at an average of around 500p for each one.

All share sales by the UK Government appear to have crystallised hefty losses for the taxpayer.

The Treasury said this morning that the latest sale was "completed by way of an overnight sale via an accelerated bookbuild, a competitive market facing process that involves selling shares to institutional investors."

Shares were down more than two per cent in early trading, at around 193p.