Sept. 12 - Britain has embarked on its largest privatisation in decades - the government is selling off much of the near-500-year-old state-owned Royal Mail postal service. As Hayley Platt reports the decision has angered many.
It's been run by the state for nearly 500 years - not any more. Britain's Royal Mail - most of it anyway - is being sold off. After months of speculation the government has confirmed it's selling Royal Mail's letter and parcel delivery service. It'll be one of the largest privatisations in decades. Michael Fallon is the Business Minister. SOUNDBITE: Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, saying (English): "Royal Mail needs to modernise now it needs to be able to invest in its future like any big British business it needs to access the capital markets. It can't compete against schools or hospitals for scarce public cash. We want it to be able to access the markets so it can raise the money it needs." Post Office branches will remain state owned. But many of the 150,000 postal workers aren't happy, despite being offered 10 percent of the shares, worth around £2,000 per person. SOUNDBITE: John Franklin, postal worker, saying (English): "Our members are completely against privatisation and they're against all the things privatisation's going to bring." SOUNDBITE: Carl Wilkes, post worker, saying (English): "The sell off is an absolute disgrace and we will be on strike." It's the fourth time in 19 years Britain has tried to privatise Royal Mail - with its iconic red boxes. A recent poll show two thirds of the public was against a sell off But after years of losing money Royal Mail is now profitable. And Reuters' BreakingViews Robert Cole says it's a good opportunity for investors. SOUNDBITE: Robert Cole, Reuters BreakingViews, saying (English): "The expectations are that the value of the company will be £2.5/£3 billion and that gives us the 7% dividend yield which is a lot in anybody's money, especially in this low interest rate environment." The sale echoes Margaret Thatcher's privatisation policies of the 80s. But even she thought selling off Royal Mail was a step too far. The move could begin within weeks - so could the strikes.