Investors bypass share shops as BT3 deadline nears: Banks and brokers are disappointed with the level of registrations. Vivien Goldsmith reports

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The Independent Online
THE official deadline for registering for BT3 is next Friday, 2 July.

Individual deadlines are being set by each share shop. Birmingham- based ShareLink has already closed for registrations, while Norwich & Peterborough Building Society is keeping the lines open until midnight next Friday.

It is better to register with a share shop than the centralised share information office because those applicants will get a more generous share allocation if the offer is over-subscribed. But so far under 30 per cent of the 1 million people who have registered have used a share shop.

The stockbrokers, banks and building societies that have been designated as share shops for the BT3 issue have been grumbling that the advertising campaign has been emphasising the share information office and giving its telephone number prominence.

When callers ring they are not prompted to make a choice between registering with the share information office or one of the 150 share shops.

BT employees and around 2.4 million BT shareholders have been automatically registered with the share information office. Gavin Oldham, chief executive of the Share Centre, says as many as 2 million BT shareholders have failed so far to register with a share shop.

There is nothing to stop people registering over and over again. But it is illegal to apply more than once for shares. The registration figures being given out have not stripped out double-counting, so are bound to overestimate the potential number of share applicants.

Justin Urquhart Stewart, director of planning at Barclays Stockbrokers, said he was disappointed with the number of share shop registrations.

Barclays has programmed cash machines so that customers can ask for registration details, and says it is happy with the number of registrations coming in through this push- button technology.

Neil Stapley, who heads National Westminster's stockbroking division, said: 'People don't seem to be falling over themselves to register. Unless there's a last-minute stampede, it's unlikely that there will be a great deal of selling in the early days.'

The share shops have been prevented by the Government from 'facilitating or promoting' quick sales. The Government wants to encourage long-term shareholding rather than plant the idea of privatisations as a way to make a quick buck. But several share shops, including Barclays, Norwich & Peterborough and the Share Centre, will make arrangements for a quick sale if you ask.

In the last BT offer, which also had payments in three stages, those buying through the public offer were given a 15p discount off the first instalment. The discount will not be so generous this time, probably 10p - the same as the discount off the second and third payments. Shareholders can choose a one-for-15 share bonus instead of the discounts on the second and third payments. This is only earned if the shares are held until July 1996.

The first payment will be pounds 1.50 per share with a minimum application for 120 shares - a cost of pounds 180. The second payment, due in March 1994, is pounds 1.40 per share. The final payment, due in October 1994, will be fixed when the price for BT shares is decided after the applications by institutions have been examined.

The institutions have to indicate how many shares they would require at various prices, and the Government's advisers then take these tentative bids into account when fixing the price. All the institutions pay this single price.

Individuals can also apply for shares via the tender offer. But only about 80 of the share shops will also be handling applications via the tender offer. Some share shops, such as the stockbroker Henderson Crosthwaite, will put dual applications on a single form.

Investors who apply via the tender offer will not get the retail discounts. But they will be assured of a decent allocation if they are planning to put the shares into a personal equity plan. Managers are not allowed to make an initial charge. There is a special section in the retail tender for PEPs, and those applying for between 1,000 and 2,000 shares will get preference.

Most advisers are recommending BT as a share to hold with a view to the rich income stream. The first dividend is in September and is paid on the fully-paid price. So the annualised gross return after the first dividend is 40 per cent for those applying through the public offer, according to Henderson Crosthwaite.

The offer closes on Wednesday 14 July, and dealing starts on Monday 19 July.

BT3 Share Information Office 081-200 3000.

----------------------------------------------------------------- BT3 DEALING OFFERS ----------------------------------------------------------------- Share shop Commission Family deals Min pounds % Barclays 12.50 2.00 Up to four Dunbar Boyle & Kingsley 15.00 1.00 Up to 10 Postal 15.00 1.00 Up to 10 071-247 8898 Henderson Crosthwaite 25.00 1.85 Up to four John Siddall & Son 7.00 - None Postal 7.00 - None 061-832 7471 Killik 40.00 1.65 By negotiation Postal Flat pounds 10 pounds 1 per certificate 071-589 1577 Leeds Permanent 18.00 1.25 pounds 4.50 per Postal extra person 0532 342444 9.95 0.75 pounds 2.50 per extra person Lloyds Bank 11.00 1.00 Up to four Postal 11.00 1.00 Up to four Midland Bank 10.00 0.75 Up to four National & Provincial 20.00 - None Postal 9.75 - pounds 2.50 per extra 0900 808080 person, max 3 NatWest Bank 17.00 1.50 Up to five people Postal 9.95 1.00 Up to five people Norwich & Peterborough 9.50 1.20 Up to four Postal 9.50 1.20 Up to four 0733 394959 Pilling & Co 30.00 1.80 Up to five Postal 20.00 1.25 Up to five 071-613 3000 Share Centre 8.00 0.80 None Postal 10.00 1.00 pounds 2.50 per extra 071-757-4000 person Skipton BS 15.00 1.00 pounds 4.50 per extra Postal person, max 3 (0532) 352 444 9.00 1.00 pounds 2.00 per extra person, max 3 -----------------------------------------------------------------

(Photographs omitted)

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