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Banks will reap £30m from Royal Mail sell-off



Seven City investment banks led by Goldman Sachs are set to share fees of up to £30m from the privatisation of Royal Mail.

As the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, set out details of a planned stock market flotation of the postal services, it emerged that only one of the institutions, Barclays – which has a smaller role as sponsor – is British.

The Communication Workers Union is opposing privatisation, saying it could lead to the loss of 700 jobs among Royal Mail's 3,500 workforce in Northern Ireland.

It is the Swiss bank, UBS, which joins Goldman in leading the expected initial public offering (IPO), while ministers have also signed up Merrill Lynch, Investec, Nomura and RBC Europe. At the usual fee of around 1%, and Royal Mail's expected valuation of between £2bn and £3bn, they can expect to earn millions each.

The Government has also hired the City PR firm, Citigate Dewe Rogerson, to spin the sell-off, and the law giants Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for legal work on the biggest privatisation since Tory Prime Minister John Major sold off the railways in the 1990s.

Mr Cable told Parliament on Wednesday that a sale was vital as "the public will always want to invest in schools and hospitals ahead of Royal Mail".

He said 150,000 postal workers would be handed a 10% stake in the company for free. Royal Mail's 150,000 staff would be given stakes worth up to £300m, or about £2,000 each. Mr Cable stopped short of an official intention to float declaration, which would trigger a four-week countdown for a listing to take place, instead saying an IPO was the Government's "preferred option".

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It is expected to take place between now and April.

The public will be able to buy shares via "online channels".