History's Biggest Stock Offering

Investors queue for shares as British Telecom goes private

Britain may be a nation of shopkeepers and gardeners, but it is not one of shareholders. Only one in 25 people own stock, vs. one in five in the U.S. Last week that began changing, as Britons rushed to take part in the biggest stock sale since 1066 and all that. The Thatcher government is selling 50.2% of British Telecom, the nationalized telecommunications company, to institutional investors and the general public. The sale will raise $4.7 billion from more than 3 billion shares.

Encouraged by a $10.3 million advertising campaign, Britons lined up...

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