Dutch taxpayers moved a step closer to recouping some of the cash spent propping up failing banks during the global financial crisis, while U.K. government stakes in its lenders remain firmly underwater and mired in litigation and performance concerns.
NFLI, the Dutch government agency tasked with managing state-controlled assets, agreed the sale of its stake in bailed-out lender ABN Amro, almost a year to the day the bank returned to the stock market in a part-privatization.
The U.K. government has been less fortunate; after injecting £45 billion ($56.2 billion) into the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) since 2008, it now faces steep losses given that the bank has a market capitalization of just £24.6 billion.
Further deepening the gloom, James Leigh-Pemberton, chairman of U.K. Financial Investments, which manages the government's stake in RBS, told lawmakers on Britain's Parliament's Commons Treasury Committee Wednesday that RBS could face a fine of between $5 billion and $12 billion from the U.S. Department of Justice linked to mortgage back securities sales in the run-up to the crisis.
But while the Dutch look set to break-even on its estimated €32 billion rescue if ABN shares rise a further 15%, British taxpayers are still staring at a loss of at least £12.5 billion.
NFLI sold 65 million shares in ABN, equivalent to a 7% stake, for a price of €20.40 -- that's a 15% premium to the price it got last November when it floated 188 million shares in the initial stake sale.
Britain's UKFI sold £2 billion worth of RBS shares in August 2015 in its first attempt to shed its then £32 billion stake in the failed lender. Buyers paid 330 pence each for the sale, a 34% discount to the government's estimated 2008 cost of 502 pence each. It also has a 9% stake in Llloyds Banking Group, which it holds at an estimated cost of 73.6 pence each, some 18.5% higher than the current 60 pence market price.