Business secretary Vince Cable is expected to confirm today that the Government has decided to give Royal Mail staff 10% of the shares in the privatised company for free.
In a statement to the House of Commons at lunchtime to formally kick-off the sale, Cable will say Royal Mail’s 150,000 UK employees will eventually collect up to £300m worth of shares by the time the all of the company is sold.
The Government has already committed to granting 10% of the shares to Royal Mail staff, but has yet to state whether they would be given away for free or at a steep discount. Government sources said they expected the shares would be given away for free, but stressed that a final decision had yet to be made.
Yet Communication Workers Union boss Billy Hayes blasted the move, adding: “Nobody outside of government and their potential investors wants their postal service sold. The public consistently oppose the sale and recently 96% of workers voted against.”
Cable is expected to announce the government intends to float just over half of the company in the first instance, with the remainder to be sold in coming years.
And like privatisations of the past – including BT and British Gas – it is thought there will be a marketing push to sell the shares to individuals, although not on the scale of the “Tell Sid” campaign, which included a huge direct marketing spend.
The public will be able to buy shares on a special internet site or through a stockbroker.
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