§ Mr. Williams
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many cases of multiple application for British Telecom shares were reported to the Government; what court action has been initiated; if the same mechanisms were used in the overseas markets to check for multiple applications; how many were identified; and what procedures were applied to avoid multiple applications being made in the form of separate applications in the United Kingdom and on the overseas markets.
§ Mr. Butcher
The examination of applications for BT shares under the United Kingdom offer for sale led to some 6,600 applications being rejected as suspected multiple applications. We are considering whether further action would be appropriate in respect of certain of these applications. No similar measures to identify multiple applications were adopted in the overseas share issues because of the different way in which the shares were distributed. The shares were not allocated, as in the United Kingdom, on the basis of direct public applications but were sold by the Government to the overseas underwriters who allocated them to selling groups of investment banks, dealers and brokers. In accordance with market practice it was up to the selling groups, rather than the vendor, to effect the sale and distribution of shares amongst their clients.
Steps were taken to ensure that shares available under the United Kingdom offer for sale were not offered to institutional investors or selling groups in overseas markets where separate share issues were being made; and United States and Canadian nationals were specifically prohibited from applying for shares in the United Kingdom offer for sale under the terms of the United Kingdom prospectus.