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News Summary: Royal Mail soars on stock debut

The Associated Press

AIR MAIL: Shares in newly-privatized Royal Mail soared in their London stock market debut Friday, bolstering criticism that the company — which traces its five-century history to King Henry VIII — was undervalued by the British government. The stock gained 31 percent by midday in very heavy trading.

SHORT SALE? The opposition Labour Party said the gains show the government shortchanged taxpayers and could have gotten more than the 1.72 billion pounds ($2.75 billion) it received from the sale. Following Friday's surge, the company was valued at nearly 4.5 billion pounds ($7.2 billion) by midday.

RETRO ROUTE: The privatization is symbolic for the Conservative Party, the main party in the coalition government. Much of its electoral success in the 1980s under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was due to the sale of state assets such as British Gas PLC and British Airways PLC.