Market says " yes" to Optus shares

Cable & Wireless Optus had a successful first day of conditional trading on the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday selling more than three million shares.

From the initial offer at 12.30pm, the shares peaked at $2.74 before closing at $2.65, well above industry expectations of$2.20 to $2.50. The closing price was 43 per cent above the premium retail price, and 23 per cent above the institutional price. Small retail investors were expected to comprise the bulk of yesterday's buyers.

C&W Optus said the share offer was "highly successful" and raised more than $725 million. The share register has some 70,000 shareholders, including a large number of C&W Optus' employees, said chief executive Chris Anderson.

As a result of the share offer, C&W Optus will receive gross proceeds of at least $2.4 billion, comprising $275 million in offer proceeds; $1.5 billion from the exercise of options by C&W; and $209 million from the balance of the March 1998 rights issue.

Unconditional trading is expected to commence around November 25.