Remaining Royal Mail shares to be sold off

Selling the family silver.

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The Chancellor George Osborne has announced that the government is planning to sell its remaining 30% stake in the Royal Mail. Osborne said that the government’s stake, which is worth £1.5 billion, would be sold when ministers could be sure they would get value for money.

“It is the right thing to do for the Royal Mail, the businesses and families who depend on it – and crucially for the taxpayer,” the Chancellor said in the House of Commons during a debate about the Queen's Speech.

“We will only sell our stake when we can be sure we’re getting value for money but let’s be clear: holding over 1 billion of Royal Mail shares in public hands is not a sensible use of taxpayers’ money. By selling it, we help that important national business to prosper and invest in the future while we use the money we get to pay down the national debt and pay less interest on that debt as a result.

“It’s a double win for the taxpayer, for we on this side never forget that it is not our money or the government’s money; it’s the money people work for and pay in taxes and entrust in us to spend wisely.”

The last government sold off 70% of shares in Royal Mail in October 2013. Shares in Royal Mail were initially floated at 330p per share, and are now trading at over 500p. But share prices fell almost 20pc after Osborne’s announcement that he would be "selling the family silver," as Harold MacMillian once likened privitisation to. 

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