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Norway wealth fund backs NatWest plan to buy more state-owned stock

April 18, 2024

STOCKHOLM, April 18 (Reuters) - Norway's $1.6 trillion sovereign wealth fund, one of the world's largest investors, said on Thursday it would vote in favour of a proposal letting NatWest (NWG.L), opens new tab buy back more of its stock from the British government, amid efforts to speed up privatisation.
Ahead of its annual meeting on April 23, lender NatWest has asked its investors to back a resolution that would enable it to acquire up to 15% of its total stock from the government in a 12-month period, up from a previous ceiling of 5% a year.
The British government, which bailed out the lender at the height of the 2007-9 financial crisis, recently reduced its stake in NatWest to below 30%, making it no longer a controlling shareholder.
The government is steadily divesting its holding in NatWest, including through a planned sale of stock to the public as early as June, and has said it wants to exit completely by 2026. The state's holding in the bank was once as high as 84%.
Shares in NatWest traded up 1.7% at 0721 GMT.
Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which operates the Norwegian fund, is one of NatWest's biggest investors, with a 3.23% stake in the British bank at the end of 2023, valued at the time at $794.3 million.
NBIM did not give a specific reason for approving the motion. The fund has said it aims to back the board and management of companies in which it owns stakes as long as proposals do not breach responsible investment guidelines.

Image: Yahoo Finance