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Business

UK government sells further stake in Royal Mail

Britain has sold half of its remaining 30-percent stake in Royal Mail. The government said it saw no reason to hold on to its stake in the postal service, whose privatization attracted harsh criticism in 2013.

The British government has raised 750 million pounds ($1.2 billion, 1 billion euros) by selling half of its 30-percent stake in formerly state-owned Royal Mail. Shares were sold to institutional investors at 500 pence each.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the sale represented good value for taxpayers.

"Royal Mail has demonstrated that it can thrive in the private sector," he said. "It now has the ability to access the funds it needs to ensure that it has a sustainable future and can adapt to the changes in the postal market," he said, adding that the government saw "no policy reason" to hold on to its remaining stake.

In his annual Mansion House speech on the state of the economy, UK Finance Minister George Osborne also stressed that the sale would benefit Royal Mail.

When Royal Mail was privatized in 2013, the government was harshly criticized for selling the shares too cheaply, at 330 pence apiece. A parliamentary committee later said that the government had "wasted" 1 billion pounds in taxpayers' money.

Osborne also announced that the government would begin selling its stake in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in the coming months.

ng/hg (Reuters, dpa)

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