Royal Mail employees to get free shares in sell off

VINCE Cable will hope to appease Royal Mail staff this afternoon when he confirms key details of the sale of the 497-year-old firm – including plans to hand up to £300m of shares to employees at no cost.

The business secretary is expected to tell the House of Commons that the postal service will pass out of state control through a public listing (IPO) towards the end of this year, in a deal that is expected to value the company at up to £3bn.

As part of his plans, Cable will also tell the House of Commons how workers, who have been promised 10 per cent of the shares, will receive their stock. The most likely option, as first reported by Sky News, is that shares will be handed to workers for free in several tranches. Retail investors should also get more details of how they can buy into the offer, but Cable is expected to hold back from confirming the precise date of the IPO, or making a direct pitch to potential investors at this stage.

The Communication and Workers Union has pledged to strike if the deal goes ahead, and will today take its protest to The Gherkin.