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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

We report this week on news that the government has sold its remaining Royal Mail shares, payments processor Worldpay has priced its listing on the London Stock Exchange, September witnessed a retail spending climb and seven million Brits have been offered the chance to top up their state pension.

 

UK government sells remaining Royal Mail shares

The UK government's remaining stake in Royal Mail has been sold off, with the offloading of its 13% holding earning £591.1 million and the final 1% shareholding being gifted to eligible Royal Mail staff. The move means the government has received a total of £3.3 billion from selling shares in the postal operator, which was privatised in December 2013.

The final stake was sold off at 455p a share and in Tuesday's early trading, shares in the company had fallen 21p, or 4.5%, to 451.20p. Business Secretary Sajid Javid commented: "We have delivered on our promise to sell the government's entire remaining stake, which means that for the very first time, the company is now wholly owned by its employees and private investors."

As a result of the sale, Royal Mail employees now own a 12% stake in the company, while the government has said that all money raised by the sale would go towards reducing the national debt. 

Worldpay price listing values it at £4.8bn

Worldpay Group has been valued at £4.8 billion after the UK payments processor priced its listing on the London Stock Exchange at 240p per share. Reuters reports that the price range for the initial public offering (IPO) - the biggest seen in 2015 on London's main market - had been narrowed from between 225p and 260p to 235p and 250p.

The IPO is expected to raise around £2.16 billion, with around £948 million going to the company. Chief Executive Philip Jansen said: "We have already invested over £1 billion in our technology, people and capabilities, helping us to become an advanced and sophisticated technology-led organisation with great potential." 

'Rapid rise' in UK retail spending in September

September saw a significant leap in UK retail spending, new figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have shown. According to the BRC, the period between August 30th and October 3rd experienced a 3.9% rise in the total value of retail sales compared to the corresponding period in 2014.

This represented the fastest climb since March and likely reasons for such movement include England's hosting of the Rugby World Cup and the fact that the late August holiday weekend - which saw considerable back-to-school spending - fell in the September survey period.

The figures also showed that retail spending for the third quarter of the year was 2.2% up on the year. This signalled an improvement on the 1.1% reported for the second quarter, but a reduction on the 2.8% recorded in the first. 

7m Brits offered state pension top up

The opportunity to top up their state pensions is being offered to more than seven million people in Britain, with men over 65 and women over 63 invited to receive up to an additional £25 a week. The new scheme, which will be known as Class 3A contributions, involves a one-off payment and aims to provide an income that will increase with inflation.

Those currently classified as pensioners and anyone who will reach state pension age before April 2016 - when the new single-tier pension will begin - can qualify for the offer. It means that around seven million people are currently eligible, although the Department for Work and Pensions has admitted the option may not be beneficial for everybody, and has therefore recommended people interested in the scheme seek further guidance on the matter.