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Cameron Says Government Focus for RBS Is to ‘Get the Money Back’

July 3 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron defended his government’s management of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, saying the focus was recovering the money paid for its rescue.

“It’s very important that the government stands up for the taxpayer and makes sure that RBS has the right strategy, the right leadership, so that we get the money that was put by the last government into the banks back,” Cameron told lawmakers during his weekly questions session in Parliament in London today.

RBS received 45.5 billion pounds ($69 billion), the costliest bank bailout in history, during the global financial crisis and the shares remain below the level at which taxpayers would break even. The Treasury plans to hire Rothschild to help review the case for splitting the 81 percent state-owned lender and hiving off its worst-performing assets into a “bad bank.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne yesterday defended the right of the government to intervene in the running of the Edinburgh-based bank. He was responding to a suggestion by opposition Labour Treasury spokesman Ed Balls that the government had mishandled the removal of Stephen Hester as chief executive officer last month.

“I represent the taxpayer,” the London-based Times newspaper reported Osborne saying at an event it hosted. “It’s a very important bank for our country, it’s the largest lender to small business in our country, so of course we’re interested in the health of the bank.”

To a suggestion that he was pushing the bank to play a greater role in the economy, the newspaper reported Osborne as saying that people “have to understand that I’m running not just a finance ministry but an economics ministry.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net; Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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