Treasury must push debt appeal

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The Independent Online
TREASURY advisers and officials should do more to make forthcoming sales of government-owned debt in British Telecom and the privatised electricity companies more appealing to investors, according to a report published today, writes Chris Blackhurst.

An investigation by the National Audit Office found that the Government's sale of pounds 1.3bn worth of BT and electricity paper in November 1992 could have been more successful if the debt had been made more appealing to potential buyers.

In future, warns the NAO, with an eye to a second sale due shortly, the offer should be fine-tuned to reflect market conditions and interest rates.

Before November 1992, the Treasury held 29 issues of debt in BT and the electricity suppliers, together worth pounds 3.7bn. That month, through Goldman Sachs, it offloaded seven: two were bought by BT, two by investment banks and three went back to the electricity companies.

Goldman and Dewe Rogerson, the public relations advisers, were given a target of raising pounds 1.25bn and, in the event, obtained pounds 1.33bn. The advisers, who also included Allen & Overy, the City law firm, were paid pounds 451,000 for their efforts.

Salomon Brothers is handling the second tranche, the details of which have yet to be decided. Despite the success of the first sale, the NAO concluded, some problems remained.