The government sold its last stake in Royal Mail and now shares are tumbling

For the first time in its history, the Royal Mail is a fully private company, and the markets do not like it one bit.

Shares in Britain’s national mail carrier, which for all of its history has been at least part owned by the government, tanked at the opening bell this morning. At 8.30, the firms shares were down by 21.9p, around 4.6%.

The plunge in Royal Mail’s share price is down to the British government selling off the 14% of Royal Mail it still owned, ending the privatisation process that started in 2013.

The sale raised £591 million for 13% of the remaining shares, with the final 1% gifted to Royal Mail employees.

According to the government, the company’s workers own 12% of the company.

Each share was sold yesterday evening for 455p, which with shares now down to 450p seems like a good move from the government. In total, £3.3 billion has now been raised by the sale of the postal carrier.

Business secretary Sajid Javid described the sale as a “truly historic day for Royal Mail” saying “We have delivered on our promise to sell the government’s entire remaining stake, which means that for the very first time, the company is now wholly owned by its employees and private investors.”

In the past the government has faced criticism for pricing Royal Mail shares too low at its IPO. Shares debuted at 330p, but skyrocketed to over 600p at the beginning of 2014. They have since stabilised at around current levels.

NOW WATCH: This is what 2,000 calories actually looks like

NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au.