The Britain government has kicked off a long-awaited privatisation of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) by selling a 5.4% stake in the bank for £2.08bn ($3.24bn).

UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which handles the government’s stakes in banks, sold the stake at 330 pence per share, far below the 502 pence at which the government bailed it out.

RBS was bailed out by the UK government with £45.5bn of taxpayers’ money in 2008.

The move will reduce the government’s holding in the bank to 72.9% from the current 78.3%.

RBS CEO Ross McEwan said: "I’m pleased the government has started to sell down its stake. It’s an important moment and reflects the progress we are making to become a stronger, simpler and fairer bank. There is more work to be done but we’re determined to build a bank the country can be proud of."