Unlike Lloyds, where the Government has been steadily selling shares it acquired when the bank had to be rescued in 2008, RBS remains 80% owned by the public. Despite a drastic pruning of its balance sheet and the sale of non-core businesses, its stock price is still substantially below the level at which taxpayers, who funded the £45 billion recapitalisation of the bank, would get their money back.
Shareholders in Lloyds and RBS will get their day in court. That will at least enable them to vent their frustrations and further expose the stupidity of the boards and executives who presided over the catastrophic drops in the value of their investments, but both actions are likely to result in pyrrhic victories.
Sacking Stephen Hester to facilitate an early privatisation of Royal Bank of Scotland Group has stirred a new media storm but how long will it last? It deserves more than superficial attention. This is a short-sighted political fix which will do the economy and the taxpayer no favours.