Published Thursday, 12 September 2013
Business Secretary Vince Cable said employees will be given 10% of the shares, with the rest being offered to corporate investors and members of the public in the coming weeks.
He continued: "The government is taking action to secure a healthy future for the company. These measures will help ensure the long-term sustainability of the six days a week, one price goes anywhere universal postal service.
"By announcing that we intend to move ahead with a sale of shares in Royal Mail we are completing the third and final part of the reforms agreed in Parliament two years ago."
The announcement was made on Thursday ahead of a meeting of Communication Workers Union officials to discuss the sell-off and their plans for a strike ballot.
Ten percent of shares will be given to 160,000 Royal Mail workers, while members of the public will be able to buy a minimum of £750 shares.
It is expected the sell-off will make up to £3bn and will be completed in this financial year.
Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene said: "Our strategy is delivering a revitalised company, with a unique, UK, multi-use network through which we are proud to deliver the universal postal service for all UK citizens."
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie hit out at the news.
She said: "The SDLP stand squarely behind the postal workers who do not want to see this privatisation take place and who fear that these changes will damage or destroy a much valued public service.
"I am concerned that, despite assurances from the government, this is the beginning of the end for the six day a week universal flat price service.
"Once market pressures and the demands of private ownership take hold we are likely to see these long standing commitments watered down and eroded."
Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan said there concerns about the move in rural areas.
"The privatisation of the majority of Royal Mail will result in a reduced, poorer service especially in rural areas," he explained.
"While the British government state that privatisation would ensure the six days a week service and the one-price-goes-anywhere service once the majority of shares are dispensed from their ownership they cannot guarantee this."
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