Government sells off its final stake in Royal Mail - but only institutional investors need apply

Emma Haslett
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The process of privatising the Royal Mail began in October 2013 (Source: Getty)

The government has announced plans to sell off its final stake in Royal Mail, two years after it began privatising the company - but true to form, only institutional investors will get a chance to buy the shares.

In a statement today, it said had begun the process of selling off its remaining shareholding, which stands at just under 14 per cent, by way of a placing to institutions.

"Current market conditions should allow a successful sale and the realisation of value for the taxpayer," said a spokesperson for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

The universal postal service is strongly protected by law and Ofcom has a duty to ensure its provision. Therefore the Government sees no policy reason to retain a stake in Royal Mail.

The government began the process of privatising the service in October 2013. At the time, it was criticised over its decision to offer the largest tranche of shares to institutional investors, after the retail offering was massively over-subscribed.

Shares leaped in the first days of trading, from the offer price of 330p to 575p. They later dipped as low as 393p as competition piled into Royal Mail's market - not least in the form of Amazon's in-house delivery service.

The company is currently the subject of a "fundamental" review into its position in the UK's parcels industry by communications watchdog Ofcom.

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