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Royal Mail sell off criticised, cost taxpayers dear says review committee


Royal Mail sell off criticised, cost taxpayers dear says review committee

The privatisation of Britain’s Royal Mail was bungled, according to a committee of lawmakers that reviewed the sale.

They conclude a fear of failure and poor advice from state-appointed banks meant the government sold the shares much too cheaply.

As a result taxpayers lost out to the tune of one billion pounds (1.25 billion euros) when Britain sold a 60 percent stake in the postal service last October.

The report, by the Business, Innovation and Skills committee, criticised the government’s decision not to raise the price once it became clear that there was high demand for Royal Mail shares.

The opposition Labour party said the committee’s report backed up their argument that the sale had been mishandled, and that the review of the privatisation process was effectively an admission from the government that it had sold the firm too cheaply.

The Business department responded the committee’s views were based on hindsight, but the government has launched a review of the bookbuilding process used to collect orders for shares in such sell-offs.

The report was published as the UK government prepares to raise 20 billion pounds from the sale of public assets such as stakes in the Eurostar rail link, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds.

with Reuters

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