§ Mr. Ground
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a further statement about expected receipts from the sale of public sector assets.
§ Mr. Moore
I announced to the House in a statement on 27 October—[Vol. 47, c. 437–38]—that the Government intended to sell about half of its remaining shareholding in Cable and Wireless plc. Arrangements are being made for the sale of 100 million shares with a nominal value of 50p each in the company. The shares to be sold represent 22.2 per cent. of the company's issued ordinary share capital and will reduce the Government's holding to some 23.1 per cent. of the ordinary share capital and one special rights preference share of £1.
The sale will be made by a public offer by tender at a minimum tender price of 275p a share payable as to 100p per share on application and the balance by 17 February 1984. Underwriting is currently in progress. A press notice will be issued later today by the Bank of England giving more particulars of the sale and a copy will be placed in the Library. It is intended that detailed terms of the offer will be advertised in the press on 27 and 28 November. The minimum size of application will be 100 shares. Striking price applications may be made for up to 1,000 shares: they, and tender applications above the striking price, will be eligible for preferential consideration. Applications from employees of Cable and Wireless and its United Kingdom registered subsidiaries engaged in and currently working in the United Kingdom made on the special application forms available for the purpose for up to 1,000 shares at the striking price will be allotted in full.
The Government have no plans at this stage to sell any more of their present holding in Cable and Wireless and will not do so in the next two years. The Government have recently reaffirmed that they do not intend to use their rights as a shareholder to intervene in the company's commercial decisions. Nor do they expect to vote their shareholding at general meetings of the company inopposition to resolutions supported by a majority of the court of directors, although they retain the right to do so.
An estimate will be presented to the House in due course to provide for the expenses of the sale, including any arising from indemnities given in connection with the sale.