Share shops offer Disney trips in Railtrack float

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The Independent Online
Trips to Euro Disney, a holiday in the Canadian Rockies, tickets for Eurostar trains and discount vouchers for the Orient Express are being offered by some of the share shops handling the pounds 1.8bn privatisation of Railtrack.

The promotions are by City Deal, DealWise, the Share Centre, Norwich & Peterborough Building Society and YorkShare. Though they are only a small proportion of the 110 share shops involved, advisers said the prize draws and other special offers were the most extensive so far for a privatisation.

The pounds 5m television and press advertising campaign kicked off last night as the Government released more details of the marketing campaign for the sale of the entire British track infrastructure.

The offer in the first half of May is to be paid in two instalments, with the second due after April 1997. This means that investors will be able to spread their shares between two years worth of PEPs, increasing their total benefits. Railtrack's advisers decided against offering travel perks because only 5 per cent of the population uses the railways regularly and a lot of those are commuters with season tickets.

But there will be a discount for private investors of between 5 and 10 per cent of the price of the first instalment, and a minimum investment likely to be about pounds 500. Bonus shares or a discount on the second instalment are also expected - but only for retail investors who register with share shops. The marketing campaign is aimed mainly at investors with some experience of privatisation issues.

The government is to mail 5 million households using a list built up from past offers, but this is a far lower number than in some of the earlier privatisations such as British Gas, where the marketing campaign cost pounds 40m in today's money.

Government advisers claim that every pound spent is more productive than in the 1980s because much of the basic public education about share buying was done in the earlier privatisations, especially the "Tell Sid" campaign for British Gas. There will be special arrangements for Railtrack employees and pensioners.

The Government refused to go beyond its promise of selling at least 51 per cent but it is widely expected to go the whole hog and sell all the shares.

The prospectus, on 15 April, will give an expected price range for the shares and its publication will be followed by an extensive roadshow for professional investors by Railtrack executives.

Comment, page 21

Railtrack offer

Prospectus to be

published 15 April

Share offer to be launched in May, payable in instalments

At least 30 per cent of shares reserved for private investors

Special incentives for those who register and take up offer

Shares offered through 110 banks, building societies and brokers