Chaos over Thomson shares

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Thomson, the UK's largest tour operator, is facing a barrage of complaints from private investors unable to buy shares in its flotation.

Thousands of people have missed out because they failed to receive application forms in time to return them for yesterday's noon deadline.

Thomson was also forced to admit that hundreds of potential investors were unable to apply despite registering their interest in plenty of time. The group is talking to its brokers, SBC Warburg Dillon Read, about allocating extra shares for those that can prove they registered early for the flotation.

Thousands of others who registered at the last moment are likely to end up empty-handed. They will miss out on the chance of a 10 per cent discount on holidays.

More than 600,000 people have registered for the flotation at share shops and up 500,000 may end up applying for stock, making it the most popular flotation since the Conservative government's privatisations.

A Thomson spokesman said: "We tried to encourage people to get their forms back early especially with the Bank Holiday. We believe that a few thousand people have not been able to receive shares."

The strong demand for shares is likely to mean they will be priced at the top end of the 140p to 170p range given by the company. The final price will be announced on 11 May.