When Abbey National went rational two years ago, under the auspices of Sir Campbell Adamson, popular capitalism looked pretty appealing. The former building society floated itself by giving 100 free shares each to the vast majority of its millions of investors and borrowers. Five million people were eligible for the offer and by July 1989, when the flotation took place, some 4.3 million had claimed their freebies. More claims have since trickled in, but a tidy little pot of gold still awaits distribution.
Some 380,000 recipients have yet to claim their part of the Abbey bonanza. The reluctance to take up the shares is something of a mystery. It is partly due to deaths and changes of residence, but some must be attributed to resistance to another "junk mailshot".
Potential shareholders have another year in which to claim their 100 shares (now worth nearly three times their face value). But Abbey may well have an unexpected windfall of nearly £100 million next July. Nice one, Sir Campbell.