LONDON, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- The British government announced the timetable for privatization of the state-owned postal service, the Royal Mail, planning to command a value up to 3.3 billion pounds (5.3 billion U.S. dollars) on the London stock market.
British Department of Business said Royal Mail was expected launch an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange on Oct. 11 with a value between 2.6 billion pounds and 3.3 billion pounds.
The government will dispose a majority stake in the nearly 500-year-old company, offering shares at between 260 pence and 330 pence each, and 10 percent of the shares would be given to Royal Mail's employees.
Members of the public will also be able to buy shares in Royal Mail, provided they spend a minimum of 750 pounds. The government estimated around 70 percent of the shares would go to institutional investors.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Today is an important day in the life of Royal Mail. People can now apply to buy shares in this iconic British brand.
"This will give Royal Mail access to the private capital it needs to modernize, as envisaged under successive governments, and enshrined in law by parliament two years ago."
The privatization of the world's oldest postal service was expected to be the biggest by a British government since former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sold off former state-owned companies British Gas and British Telecom to the public in the 1980s. Margaret Thatcher had considered privatization of Royal Mail to be a step too far.
Royal Mail, now employing 150,000 people, has snatched 53 percent shares on Britain's parcel delivery market. It is the biggest employer in Britain.
However, the privatization has been criticized by the Communication Workers Unions (CWU), which is planning a nationwide strike over the issue on Oct. 16. It described the privatization as an "unpopular" one in a statement issued on Friday.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said: "The government continues to press ahead with the sale of the British postal service despite consistent opposition from the public.
"It seems remarkable that the prospectus is being issued on the same day that postal workers are being sent ballot papers for strike action. Today's announcement changes nothing in terms of the ballot which will go ahead as notified," Hayes said.
"Royal Mail is profitable and can continue to be successful in the public sector. The sale is driven by political dogma, not economic necessity, and postal workers and the CWU will continue to fight to save services as well as defend their terms and conditions," he added.