Thousands of Royal Mail investors unable to sell shares

Thousands of investors in Royal Mail are experiencing problems trying to sell their shares as the number of people wanting to cash-in on the privatisation reaches unprecedented levels.

The number of investors trying to trade Royal Mail shares has hit such levels that some brokers - such as Hargreaves Lansdown - have been unable to execute trades on investors' behalf.

In a statement, Ian Gorham, chief executive of Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "We have experienced unprecedented Royal Mail share trading demand. Whilst clearly we predicted and prepared for substantial activity in Royal Mail shares, the volumes involved have gone off any conventional scale."

Royal Mail shares will not be fully listed on the London Stock Exchange until 8am on Tuesday 15 October. But investors who bought through brokers offering 'conditional dealing' have been able to trade today. Those who bought via the government's dedicated website are unable to trade until 15 October.

The weight of demand has crippled some of the brokers given license to trade Royal Mail shares early, leaving many investors unable to cash-in on the early share price rises.

Intermittent issues

"We have processed many thousands of trades on behalf of our clients, and continue to do so, but some clients will have had difficulty getting through on the telephone and experienced intermittent website issues," said Gorham.

"We have six times the normal number of dealing staff working today, and continue to work hard to deal with the demand. We will keep working flat out until our normal fluent service is restored. We'd like to apologise to our clients for any issues they have experienced this morning."

Members of the public were able to apply for a minimum of £750 of shares through intermediaries such as Hargreaves Lansdown and Interactive Investor (or directly from the government).

Once the scale of demand was determined, the government scaled the offering back so that any private investor wanting to buy £750 was able to do so, but those looking to buy between £750 and £10,000 could only purchase £750. Those looking to purchase shares worth over £10,000 were not able to buy any shares.