The Halifax handout - to sell or to save?

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The next step in the gargantuan free share handout by the Halifax was taken last week, as the soon-to-be bank announced details of the choices open to the eight million customers due to receive the windfall in June.

The Halifax is second in line - but the biggest - of five societies due to pay windfalls this year. Alliance & Leicester savers and borrowers are due to get their pounds 1,100 of shares - or cash, if they have opted to sell - later this month.

Qualifying savers and borrowers with the Halifax will be sent details of how many shares they will each get later this month or early in May. At that time they will also be asked to choose whether they want to sell their shares for free through the Halifax or keep them, and if they choose to keep them if they want to put them in a special Halifax PEP.

If they choose to sell they will be able to do so for free for 10 days through the Halifax. If they opt to keep the shares the Halifax is encouraging the use of a new Halifax Shareholder Account, which avoids the need to have a share certificate and will be free-of-charge for at least three years.

But if you want to put the shares in a PEP other than those offered by the Halifax - and this is likely to prove a popular option among people due to receive more than one windfall this year - then you will need to ask for a share certificate.

Details of the new Halifax Shareholder Account are being posted to those waiting for the windfall along with What shares are about, a booklet explaining the basic facts of share ownership. The Halifax estimates that 80 per cent of its new shareholders have never held a share before and the windfall handout will represent the biggest extension of share ownership ever in the UK. The mailshot also contains details of a range of discounts on offer to existing customers, including discounts of up to 5 per cent off normal Halifax personal loan rates.

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