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Friday, May 14, 1999 Published at 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK

Business: Your Money

Ireland swept by share fever

Nearly one in every three adults in Ireland has registered to buy shares in the state phone company sell-off next month.

With its economy booming it should come as little surprise that popular capitalism is now sweeping the Irish Republic.

The Dublin government expects yet more to apply and has given them until 28 May to register for the Telecom Eireann stock float.

The enthusiastic take up by the general population is a further sign of the growing affluence and dynamism of the Irish economy.

One million hopefuls

What was long regarded as a sleepy rural economy has been transformed in recent years into a European tiger helped by generous European Union grants.

Dublin govenments have presided over some of the world's fastest growth rates, with soaring property prices and low unemployment among the spin-offs.

Now, with echoes of the mid-1980s boom in the UK, "popular capitalism" and "share ownership for all" is to cross the Irish Sea.

The Irish government announced in April that it would sell off 20% of Telecom Eireann in Ireland's largest ever share offer.

It estimates that one million adults have registered to apply for shares since the offer opened.

There are around 2.8 million adults on the Irish electoral register.

Irish addresses

"International experience suggests that anything between 15% and 45% of registrations convert ultimately into share applications," a Telecom Eireann spokesman said.

The registration process is open only to people with Irish addresses and will give them priority when shares are issued.

Shares in Telecom Eireann, which is valued by some analysts at around 5.5bn Irish pounds (4.5bn) will be listed in Dublin, London, and New York.

The size of the offer and the likely price of the shares is expected to be announced in early June.

The Irish government has said a "significant proportion" will be made available to the Irish public.

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