Norwich Floats on a Raft of Millions; [Pounds Sterling]1,000 WINDFALLS FOR INSURANCE GIANT'S POLICYHOLDERS
Byline: SEAN POULTER
MILLIONS of people are around [pounds sterling]1,000 richer today after the Norwich Union stock market flotation unlocked another cash bonanza.
The windfall for three million policyholders with the insurance giant follows similar handouts for Halifax and Alliance & Leicester customers - and it leaves High Street shops looking forward to a summer of big spending.
Share prices in the former building societies and the insurance company are much higher than anticipated and surveys have suggested that people intend to splash out with the extra cash on holidays, furniture and cars.
Around 1.8million Norwich Union policyholders were given a minimum of 300 free shares, while a further 1.1million received a fixed 150 shares each.
With share prices ending their first day of trading at 324.5p - that left minimum windfalls worth between just under [pounds sterling]500 and [pounds sterling]1,000.
The bonanza did not end there, for many policyholders were allowed to buy thousands of extra shares at a knock-down 265p each - a discount of 25p on the official 290p opening price.
Working on last night's price of 324.5p, that means they have made an initial profit of nearly 60p a share.
Those with extra shares, however, were unable to sell them immediately because the relevant ownership certificates have not yet been sent out.
The Norwich Union's decision to swop ownership by its policyholder customers for ownership by shareholders ends a 200-year-old tradition.
It began insuring travellers on London to Norwich stagecoaches against attacks by highwaymen and soon after turned to offering financial protection against fire damage. …