It’s a decent chunk that’s being floated, too: in a statement to the stock market this morning, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said it would float between 40.1% and 52.2% of the company.
The good news is that, according to estimates, the whole thing should be out of the way by mid-October, meaning a strike planned by the Communication Workers’ Union, which is only being voted on today, can’t happen in time to disrupt the flotation.
It’s still a bit close for comfort, though: the soonest a strike can take place is 23 October. Royal Mail is likely to float on 15 October. That doesn’t give its new owners a lot of time to get comfortable.
Usually, an IPO is a time for companies to look ahead to a brave new future. Not Royal Mail, though: chief executive Moya Greene was at pains to quell unrest by assuring workers the company ‘has a unique place in the UK and that will not change as we move into the private sector’.
‘We will now be better able to compete in what is a fast-changing and intensely competitive market,’ she added. But without changing its position. We look forward to seeing how she manages that one...
Despite workers’ misgivings, the government confirmed this morning that 150,000 of them would be eligible for about 10% of (free) shares in the business, which will be priced at between 260p and 330p each (members of the public can also apply to own shares, but the minimum slice they can apply for is £750).
Nevertheless, CWU general secretary Billy Hayes was spitting blood about the plans.
‘The sale is driven by political dogma, not economic necessity,’ he said. ‘It seems remarkable that the prospectus is being issued on the same day that postal workers are being sent ballot papers for strike action’.
So far from a smooth path for the flotation. But strike or no strike, the government is clearly determined to get this over with as soon as possible. Expect drama.