§ Mr. Lester
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a further statement on the sale of the Government's shareholding in Cable and Wireless.
§ Mr. Moore
Cable and Wireless plc announced earlier today that it intends to raise additional equity capital at the same time as the Government sell their remaining ordinary shares in the company. Subject to market conditions, it is expected that the joint offer will take place in December. the Government have confirmed to the company that they will not be taking up that portion of the company's new shares to which they would have been entitled to subscribe.
The Government will be retaining the special rights preference share in the company. This requires the consent of Her Majesty's Government, as holder of the special share, to certain events such as the voluntary winding-up of the company, material disposal of assets, the creation or issue of shares with voting rights different from those of the ordinary shares, and to changes in certain articles of the company, including those which limit the shareholdings of any one person together with those of his associates to not more than 15 per cent. of the issued ordinary share capital. The Government have agreed that they should no longer be exempt from the 15 per cent. limit on individual shareholdings following the sale of its shares.
The Government also have the right under the company's articles to appoint two non-executive directors and they have agreed that it will no longer be appropriate for them to have this right once they cease to be an ordinary shareholder.