Latest sell-off expected to generate huge public interest

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The Independent Online
Share shops expect huge interest in the sell-off of National Power and PowerGen. The Government this week unveiled its plans for the sale of the remaining 40 per cent of the two companies. The public have until the end of February to register.

Jeff Plowman, managing director of Dealwise, which provides broking services to the Leeds and Skipton building societies, said there was a lot of pent-up demand from the public for a privatisation issue.

People who want to subscribe must register with an authorised share shop, even if they already hold shares in the companies.

There are 130 financial institutions appointed as share shops, with 11.000 high street outlets. The commission charged varies from about 1 per cent from companies such as ShareLink and the Royal Bank of Scotland, to 1.8 per cent from stockbrokers such asBrown Shipley.

Many share shops, such as the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society's stockbroker, Waters Lunniss, offer a lower rate if the share dealing is carried out through the post - 0.5 per cent instead of 1 per cent. Some of the share shops have a minimum charge, from about £7.50 in the case of ShareLink to about £35 at the Edinburgh-based stockbroker Bell Lawrie White.

A range of special offers has sprung up from the deal. Norwich and Peterborough, for instance, is offering some successful applicants entry into a free draw for a VIP trip to watch Norwich City FC.

The sell-off of the generating companies has been divided into two parts - the UK public offer and the international offer. Investors who already have shares in these companies will be given priority. Shares in PowerGen and National Power will be offeredtogether in the ratio of three National Power shares for every two PowerGen.

Anybody who wants to sell the shares in the after-market will have to pay separate dealing costs for the two companies.

The sale price of the shares will depend on the prevailing price and on what institutions are ready to pay through the international offer. Shares are expected to be offered to the public at a 20p discount.

Shares will be on a partly-paid basis, with three instalments in three tax years. The discount will be reflected in a lower first instalment price. Individual investors who want a larger allocation can apply through the retail tender, part of the international offer. This allows individuals to apply for shares in both companies separately.

PEP investors have to apply for their shares through the retail tender and will not benefit from the discount offered under the public offer.

Proshare has a list of share-shops for £1.95. Tel: 0171-600 0984.

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