Royal Mail Sale To Be Completed Before Strike
The Government has confirmed a timetable for the Royal Mail privatisation to be completed ahead of any possible strike action by postal workers.
Shares are expected to be priced at between 260p and 330p, ministers said, giving a market valuation in the range of £2.6bn and £3.3bn.
The Government explained that it planned to sell between 40.1% and 52.2% of the company, which is expected to make its market debut on October 11, with 150,000 Royal Mail staff receiving free shares likely to be worth roughly £2,000 each at the valuation's mid-range.
It was confirmed that unconditional dealings in the stock will start on October 15, which is the day before voting closes in a ballot by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) over whether to back a campaign of industrial action on the sale.
Any strike action would start a week later.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Today is an important day in the life of Royal Mail. People can now apply to buy shares in this iconic British brand.
"This will give Royal Mail access to the private capital it needs to modernise, as envisaged under successive governments, and enshrined in law by Parliament two years ago."
The Government envisages that 70% of the offering will be allocated to institutional investors.
Individuals could apply for shares from today, with the deadline for the receipt of applications being October 8, but sources have suggested the offer is already fully subscribed.
Further pricing details and share allocations will be confirmed when conditional dealings in Royal Mail start.
Retail investors based in the UK can buy shares at a minimum of £750 and can also apply through intermediaries.
Despite the prospect of the windfall for its members, the CWU says it fully expects the ballot to overwhelmingly back strike action unless the company provides guarantees on issues including pay, deliveries and future jobs.
A union communication sent to CWU members today said: "Those who want to sell off the Royal Mail Group are motivated purely by short-term gain and vested interests.
"We cannot give the company a free hand to determine your future and the future of UK postal services."