View from City Road: Hurry to catch your BT benefits

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The Independent Online
Thank goodness we've heard the last of Inspector Morose. Anyone who has not yet applied for shares in the BT offer should get their skates on. Time is running out.

Only one share shop is still open - Lloyds Bank in Cheapside - so anyone still wanting to apply in the public offer - and benefit from the discount which allows them to pay 10p less than institutional investors for their shares - should fill out the dreary-looking forms that have appeared in the press - including the Independent on Friday last week. But you have to be quick - the forms have to be delivered to any of the 25 banks listed by 10am tomorrow morning.

If you can't manage the public offer timetable, do not give up hope. You can still apply in the retail tender, which does not close until Friday. The disadvantage is that you will not receive the 10p discount and you will have to apply basically for at least 2,000 shares instead of 120 in the public offer. That is a minimum outlay of pounds 3,200 instead of pounds 180 for the first of three instalments.

To apply in the retail tender you either need to browbeat your stockbroker or contact one of the few firms - including The Share Centre and Barclays Stockbrokers - willing to take on new clients at this stage.

Why bother? Hopes of the shares jumping well above the offer price in the first few days of dealing are probably misplaced. The reason anyone with money to invest should apply is that BT's dividend is unusually high, taking into account the fact that new holders will have paid only one instalment.

They will receive a full dividend of 9.45p in September, just as if they had paid the full price. And there will be another dividend in the spring, at about the time the second instalment will be due.