Anniversary of British Gas privatisation

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The 25th anniversary of the privatisation of British Gas falls next week – prompting the unusual question, did Sid get rich?

The energy supplier promoted its stock market flotation with an advertising campaign urging the public that if they saw Sid they should tell him about the potential benefits of buying shares in the company.

So on December 8, 25 years after Margaret Thatcher privatised the firm, analysts will be asking if Sid, and the 1.5 million individuals who bought shares at their starting price of 135p, held on to their stake and how much it is worth today.

And it looks like Sid can be told he made a packet.

Shares in British Gas have risen 12-fold since it floated, outperforming returns from the wider stock market, which has risen by 3.5-fold.

Online and mobile broker SimplyStockbroking has calculated that if 100 British Gas shares, priced at 135p, were bought at flotation in December 1986 at a total cost of £135, today they would be worth £1,686.

SimplyStockbroking chief executive John Douthwaite said: “Millions of people will be sitting on share certificates issued in the 1980s, which will now be worth a considerable amount of money.”

The Thatcher era produced over twenty million new shareholders through its intensive programme of privatisations although critics pointed out many organisations were undervalued, depriving the taxpayer of huge sums.