Lord Sugar today hit out at the Government's "bargain basement" sale of Royal Mail and demanded an inquiry to find out who had profited from it.
The star of the BBC1 series The Apprentice made his comments as Government business spokesman Lord Popat said the banks who helped with the sale could receive up to £18.4 million in fees.
The Government has come under fire after the shares soared from the offer price of 330p when the majority of Royal Mail was sold off this month to at times more than £5.
Labour peer Lord Sugar said at question time in the House of Lords that the Government had appointed the banks UBS, Lazards and Goldman Sachs for their "so called expertise in understanding the correct timing and pricing of the flotation of the Royal Mail".
He demanded from Lord Popat: "Why did these so called experts sell the stock at such low levels and get it totally wrong to such an extent that the stock rose by 33 per cent the day afterwards and since then 54% on the issue price?
"Bearing in mind other reputable banks had come on record giving a valuation of £5 billion, why were these banks ignored and what will you be doing by way of an inquiry in finding out who the lucky institutions were that underwrote this bargain basement sale?"
Lord Popat said the key objective had been to "secure value for money for the taxpayer".
Pressed by Labour's Lord Donoughue on the level of fees paid to the banks, Lord Popat said: "The underwriting banks will share a maximum fee of 1.2 per cent of the IPO receipts or £16.9 million. This maximum includes a potential discretionary fee of £4.2 million. The actual fee will be finalised shortly. Lazards will receive £1.5 million as the Government's independent adviser."
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies