Unclaimed shares sold by Abbey

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The Independent Online
MORE than three years after its flotation, Abbey National yesterday sold the pounds 103m of shares still unclaimed by the customers who are entitled to them.

A final attempt this summer to contact the missing shareholders brought forward another 95,000 but this still leaves nearly 300,000 savers and borrowers who have not claimed their shares.

These customers have until 1998 to claim the proceeds and attaching dividends of the shares placed, at 360p each, in the stock market yesterday. However, Abbey National believes it unlikely that many more people will come forward.

The former building society will give pounds 5m of the money raised yesterday to charity. It will take the remaining pounds 98m as a profit, though the company and its auditors have still to decide how it should be treated.

James Tyrrell, finance director, said he was not basing his profit forecasts on 'this little goodie. We might hold it over until next year. We have not been basing the dividend on this little windfall.'

Including advertising, Abbey National spent several hundred thousand pounds trying to prompt its customers to claim the shares due to them. Many of those it has contacted since July had not received the six earlier mailings because they had moved home.

The other main category of claimants were those who had been held back by inertia. Even after three years, 'people had not got round to sending off the forms', a spokesman said.

Abbey National believes a small minority of those who have failed to claim their shares have not done so on principle, having opposed the company's conversion from a mutual building society.

Abbey's shares closed 7p down at 366p - against the original issue price of 130p.

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