Thomson offers share chaos deal

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The Independent Online
THE TOUR operator Thomson last night announced a deal to placate the thousands of investors who have missed out on buying shares in the group's flotation because they were not sent application forms in time.

Thomson said any investor who had registered for an application form with a share shop by the close of registrations last Sunday will be eligible for honorary membership of its founders club - which entitles them to 10 per cent off holiday prices.

The honorary membership will last until 31 December this year, enabling aggrieved investors to book a cut-price holiday for this summer.

Investors can then extend their honorary membership into a full membership by buying the minimum number of shares allocated in the offering. This will be decided tomorrow and announced on Monday when trading in Thomson shares begins.

Thomson has agreed to set up a low-cost share dealing service to enable those investors who are eligible to take advantage of the arrangements.

More than 600,000 investors registered for the flotation and up to 500,000 are thought to have applied for shares. Thomson said the number of investors who had applied for an application form and either not received one or not been able to get their forms back on time was less than 10,000.

The arrangement was struck after negotiations with Thomson's brokers, SBC Warburg Dillon Read. The brokers had looked at the alternative of allocating extra shares for those who can prove early registration.

In order to qualify for the offer investors will have to write to Thomson in London giving the name and address under which they registered for an application and the name of the share shop they went through.

Thomson will then check its registration records to verify that a registration was received within the deadline.

The strong demand for the shares is likely to mean them being priced at the top end of the 140p to 170p range. The price will be announced on Monday.

If there were to be a sharp fall in the stock market in the next seven months, then honorary members of the Thomson travel group could pick up the requisite number of shares to qualify for the discount holidays more cheaply than those who successfully applied in the public offer.

Thomson said it had encouraged investors to get their forms back early, especially because of the Bank holiday last weekend. It believed that a few thousand investors had been caught by the delay in receiving application forms.

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