Two-thirds of NIE may go to small investors: Customers eligible for money-off vouchers

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SMALL investors will be entitled to up to two-thirds of the shares in Northern Ireland Electricity in next month's pounds 300m- pounds 400m flotation of the business, the Government announced yesterday, writes Michael Harrison.

The pathfinder prospectus for the offer also discloses that customers who apply for shares will be eligible for pounds 17 in electricity vouchers for every pounds 100 invested.

More than 600,000 people have registered with the share information office, of whom about a third are NIE customers. Initially about 45 per cent of the offer will be allocated to the retail market and the rest to institutional investors. But the Government will claw back a further 22 per cent from institutions if demand from private investors is high.

The flotation will be launched on 3 June with the announcement of the share price. Payment will be in two instalments with the first set at pounds 1 a share and the minimum application 100 shares.

NIE customers will be eligible for either money-off vouchers up to a maximum of pounds 340 on allocations of 2,000 shares or more, or one bonus share for every 10 still held after three years. Non-customers will receive one bonus share for every 20 held up to a maximum of 150 bonus shares. Customers buying a minimum of 400 shares will be entitled to two money-off vouchers before the second instalment falls due on 1 June 1994.

The company made profits before interest of pounds 56.6m in 1992- 93, has pro forma net assets of pounds 255.5m and has pledged to adopt a 'progressive' dividends policy.