Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 17:29:37 GMT
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Chris Croome <labor-l@ATOMISM.DEMON.CO.UK>
Subject: Labour sells it's shares in Mersey Docks & Harbour Company

Labour sells its shares in Mersey Docks & Harbour Company

By Jack Hughes, Tribune, 2 April 1998

LABOUR this week sold its 14% shareholding in Mersey Docks & Harbour Company—scene of a recently ended bitter industrial dispute—in what amounted to the first privatisation of the Blair administration.

The little-publicised move was announced at 7.30 am on Monday morning and the auction was all over four hours later. MDHC shares jumped from 3p to 576.5p on the news.

Chairman Gordon Waddell has seen the value of his share options rise £184,324 since the close of the dispute, while fellow directors Peter Jones and Ken Wharton are better off by £65,576 and £68,911 respectively.

ABN Amro Rothschild, the merchant bank whose directors include former Conservative cabinet ministers Lord Wakeham and Norman Lamont, acted as advisors and pocketed undisclosed fees.

Three other City firms—Charterhouse Tilney, Merrill Lynch and SBC Warburg Dillon Read—acted as joint lead managers for the sale, again on a paid basis. The government itself netted £70m.

The only losers from the deal appear to be the 500 dockers in September 1995 for refusing to cross a picket line. The men waged an international campaign against the company for over two years, only settling in January this year.

Shop stewards were hopeful last May that the incoming Labour government would use its stake in the company to push for their reinstatement. However, Labour remained neutral on the matter.

The dockers did not hear of the sell-off until contacted for comment by Tribune. There is a sense of absolute disbelief, said one shop steward. All the way through the dispute, we were asking the government to use the shareholding to intervene. Maybe this was one of the reasons they decided not to.