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Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 18 July 1990

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his target for privatisation proceeds in 1990–91; and if he will make a statement.

The Treasury has this morning sold 68 million ordinary shares in British Gas plc, realising a total of £149,727,500.Of those 68 million shares, 54 million Ordinary Shares were sold to SG Warburg and Co, Ltd. at a price of 219.75p per share. This price was the result of a competitive tender amongst selected market makers, and represented the highest unconditional bid in that tender. Separately, 14 million ordinary shares were sold to British Gas Employee Shares Trustees Ltd. at a price of 221.875p per share. Stamp duty/stamp duty reserve tax will be paid by the purchasers.Under the terms of the 1986 British Gas offer for sale the Government retained a number of shares to meet bonus share entitlements. The bonus shares issue took place in January 1990. The shares sold today represented that part of those originally retained which proved surplus to requirements. The Government stated, in the prospectus for the 1986 Offer, that it would sell any surplus shares.The Treasury consulted British Gas plc prior to the sale. The Treasury was advised on this sale by NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd.My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy continues to hold a special share in British Gas. His Department also retains a small number of ordinary shares in order to meet any unresolved bonus share entitlements.The almost £150 million raised by this sale will contribute to the £5 billion target for privatisation proceeds this year.