UK watchdog to quiz Lazard over Royal Mail sale

LONDON Thu Apr 10, 2014 1:55pm EDT

A dog walker posts a letter in a Royal Mail post box in Maybury near Woking in southern England March 25, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

A dog walker posts a letter in a Royal Mail post box in Maybury near Woking in southern England March 25, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - A British parliamentary committee will question independent financial adviser Lazard this month regarding its role in the sale of Royal Mail, a committee spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Lazard, which advised the government on the Royal Mail stock market listing, will be called before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on April 30, the spokeswoman said.

This comes a week after a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) criticized the government for its reliance on independent advisers during the 2 billion pound ($3.4 billion)listing of Royal Mail and said it had sold the company too cheaply.

The 2013 initial public offering caused a public outcry after the shares surged 38 percent on the first day of public trading.

British Business Secretary Vince Cable was summoned earlier this week to face the committee for a third time over the privatization.

Lazard, which has also advised the government on selling part of its holding in Lloyds Banking Group, received 1.5 million pounds for its role in the Royal Mail deal.

Unlike banks, financial advisers do not distribute shares directly but work with the company seeking access to capital markets, acting as intermediary between the client and the banks.

Lazard was not immediately available for comment.

($1 = 0.5961 British Pounds)

(editing by Kirstin Ridley and Jane Merriman)

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