Cable: No apology over handling of Royal Mail sale

The Business Secretary has refused to apologise over the Government's handling of the privatisation of Royal Mail, after a critical report from the spending watchdog. The National Audit Office said ministers sold shares for less than they were worth.

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Caution over Royal Mail sale 'cost taxpayer'

General view of a red Royal Mail Post Box. Credit: Edward Smith/EMPICS Entertainment

The Government could have achieved better value for the taxpayer through its controversial privatisation of Royal Mail, according to a new report which reveals most investors given priority to buy shares sold them shortly after making a profit.

The National Audit Office (NAO) disclosed that 12 priority investors sold all or some of their holdings within the first few weeks of trading.

Critics of the privatisation said the spending watchdog had offered "startling proof" that the Government sold off the country's family silver "on the cheap".

But Business Secretary Vince Cable said the report showed that the Government achieved what it set out to do - securing the future of the universal delivery service through a successful sale.

The NAO said Dr Cable's department took a "cautious" approach to a number of issues which led to shares being priced at a level "substantially below" the initial trading price.

On the first day of trading last year, Royal Mail's shares closed at 455p, 38% higher than their price sale, representing a first day increase in value of #750 million for the new shareholders.

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