§ Mr. Ridley
In his speech on 14 March in the debate on the Budget resolutions, my right hon. and learned Friend the Chief Secretary affirmed that it is the Government's policy to sell their minority residual shareholdings in privatised undertakings as the circumstances of the companies, the prospectus undertakings and market conditions permit.
The Government have today completed arrangements for the offer for sale by tender, at a minimum tender price of 250p per share, of their remaining shareholding in 141W Associated British Ports Holdings plc. This comprises the 19,400,000 ordinary shares of 25p each, representing 48.5 per cent. of the issued share capital of the company, which the Government have held since the successful flotation of ABPH in February 1983. The company's good performance since privatisation strengthens the case for the sale.
Arrangements for the sale have been made and underwritten by J. Henry Schroder Wagg and Co. Ltd. on my behalf. The brokers for the offer are W. Greenwell and Company, Cazenove and Company, and Kitcat and Aitken.
The prospectus has today been placed in the Library. Abridged particulars will be published in newspapers tomorrow, and the full prospectus on Thursday, when copies will also be available to the public at all branches of Lloyds Bank and, in Northern Ireland, of the Bank of Ireland. The application list will open at 10 am on Tuesday 17 April. The striking price and the basis of allocation are expected to be announced the following day.
To encourage a wide range of ownership, arrangements have been made for small investors to make applications for up to 1,000 shares each at the striking price. Preferential consideration will be given to employees who wish to make a similar purchase, and such applications will be accepted in full within a ceiling of 1 million shares.
The Government will meet their share of the costs of the sale out of the proceeds of the offer. Parliamentary approval for expenditure to cover the costs of the sale will be sought in a "Revised Estimate for the Sale of Shares in Associated British Ports" (Class VI, Vote 5). Pending that approval the necessary expenditure will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.