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Monday, June 14, 1999 Published at 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK

Business: The Company File

Irish phone staff windfall

Staff at Ireland's main phone company are in line for windfalls

Thousands of staff at Ireland's national phone company are to receive tens of thousands of pounds from its privatisation.

Unlike the UK sell-offs in the 1980s the share of the cash is to be spread equally among all staff.

This means that a trainee will get the same payout as Telecom Eireann's chief executive.

And it is estimated that the 12,000 staff could be set to pick up shares worth more than £50,000 each.

Tenth of debt

The precise value of the windfall - sure to add further impetus to the booming economy - will depend on the performance of its shares over the next five years.

The Irish government is hoping to raise £2.3bn from selling its 50% stake in the company which will be renamed Eircom later this year.

That windfall for the Dublin coffers is equal to 10% of the national debt.

Interest in the flotation next month has exceeded all forecasts, with nearly one in two adults registering to take part in the offering.

Comsource, a joint venture between Sweden's Telia and KPN of the Netherlands, owns 15% of Telecom Eireann with an option over a further 15%.

Trade unions negotiated a staff holding of 15% in return for co-operating with the privatisation and as part of its pension arrangements.

That stake would be worth £690m if the valuation of the company is £4.6bn.

A Telecom Eireann spokeswoman emphasised that the employee share scheme was designed for the longer term.

Staff will not be able to get their allocation for at least five years she said.

The precise value of each person's stake would depend on the value of the shares at that time.

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