UK sells 7.7 percent stake in Royal Bank of Scotland

The British government has sold a 7.7 percent stake in Royal Bank of Scotland, taking a tentative step toward returning the bank to private ownership almost a decade after it was bailed out at the height of the financial crisis.

The Treasury says it sold the shares for 271 pence each, raising 2.5 billion pounds ($3.3 billion). That's 46 percent less than the 502 pence a share the government invested in 2008 and 2009.

The sale comes only weeks after RBS agreed to pay $4.9 billion to settle claims that it misled U.S. investors who bought securities backed by risky mortgages, resolving the last major legacy of the financial crisis and clearing the way for the government to reduce its stake.

The U.K. still owns 62.4 percent of RBS.