Jaguar sale rush starts outcry on private profits
By Philip Robinson and Philip Webster
The Jaguar sell-off caused a traffic jam in the City yesterday as hundreds of investors rushed to buy the company from state-owned BL. Between £2,000m and £2,500m was estimated to be chasing the shares on offer by the 10am deadline yesterday. When dealing starts on Thursday, the shares are expected to be priced far higher than the 165p each which BL will receive for them. Holders are likely to be able to sell them for between 205p and 230p.
The likelihood yet again of big profits being made by private investors from the sale of public assets brought renewed protests against the Government.
Mr Peter Shore, Opposition spokesman on trade and industry, said the taxpayer had been swindled and the speculator enriched by the cut-price Jaguar offer. BL had been forced to sell the company “for a song”.
Mr Paddy Ashdown, Liberal spokesman said it was a “knockdown sale” which was “bad news for the millions of ordinary taxpayers who will end up footing the bill”.
The Government, which masterminded yesterday’s sale, refused to comment last night. But it is likely to be severely embarrassed by suggestions that it set the price for the shares too low, possibly as a compensation for recent failures in its privatization programme, when shares such as Enterprise Oil have failed to sell.