Solid Solutions Associates has the enviable track record of being the only company to have been employed on every major UK privatisation since 1989.
The first appointment was to assist with the project management of the retail logistics for Department of Environment's sale of the 10 water companies of England & Wales in 1989.
This was followed by our appointment as the retail logistics adviser to the UK Government for all subsequent privatisations and share offers. In the last few privatisations we were appointed ahead of all other advisers, including investment banks; an indication of the high value that the Government placed on our advice.
As part of this programme, Solid Solutions was instrumental in developing the Share Shop initiative, which channelled the large public demand for privatisation shares through retail stockbroking firms - and which formed the basis of the current intermediaries offer for private sector share sales.
Our role, in the UK privatisation programme was to manage the retail offer and the associated logistics for implementing an IPO open to all UK residents. Typically, we became involved in each privatisation at an early stage - six to nine months before any public announcements, when discussions were taking place between the various parties on the retail offer structure.
Once ministerial approval was given, detailed implementation would begin. This included drafting the written communications to members of the public, producing manuals on how Share Shops operated, issuing tenders and undertaking a thorough selection process for the appointment of suppliers such as printers, mailing houses, receiving agents and registrars.
With each privatisation we built on past experience whilst also responding to the particular needs of a transaction.
The UK Government was keen to widen and deepen share ownership for the third sale of shares in British Telecom.
To achieve this the Government decided for the first time to promote and offer shares via a national network of intermediaries and retail stockbrokers - "Share Shops". The Government also wanted to give more meaningful allocations to wealthier investors who were willing to pay the same price as Institutions and who would invest in Government long terms saving products. To achieve these objectives we launched the concept of the Retail Tender.
Over 4.7 million people registered for the share offer of which 1.67m applied for £4.3bn of shares. The offer was 1.7 times oversubscribed.
Solid Solutions, on behalf of HM Treasury, were responsible for managing and implementing the retail offer. We were seconded and based in the offices of S G Warburg, the bank leading the sale.