The U.K. government says it has sold 5.4 percent of taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland for 2.1 billion pounds ($3.3 billion) as it begins to shed a stake acquired at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.
The Treasury said Tuesday it sold the shares for 330 pence each, or 2.3 percent less than Monday's closing price. The proceeds will be used to pay down the national debt.
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The government pumped 45.8 billion pounds into RBS to keep the bank afloat, acquiring a stake of about 80 percent.
Treasury chief George Osborne says, "This is an important first step in returning the bank to private ownership, which is the right thing to do for the taxpayer and British businesses."