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Royal Mail to price sale at upper end of range-sources

A Royal Mail post box stands on a street corner in Manchester, northern England September 12, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble

By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is set to price the sale of its Royal Mail postal service towards the upper end of its original range, two sources close to the deal said on Friday, potentially valuing the company at up to 3.3 billion pounds.

The sale of as much as 60 percent of Royal Mail is now expected to price between 300 pence and 330p per share, the sources said, compared to original guidance of 260-330p per share.

A spokeswoman for Royal Mail declined to comment.

The privatisation of the near 500-year-old company could be one of Britain's most significant since John Major's Conservative government sold the railways in the 1990s. It would give Royal Mail access to the private capital it says it needs to modernise and to compete in a thriving parcels market.

Royal Mail's sale has attracted strong demand, with potential investors placing orders for all the shares within hours of its launch last week.

The government has said around 30 percent of the shares on offer are expected to go to individual members of the public, who must spend a minimum of 750 pounds to invest in the company.

Order books are due to close on October 8, with the shares beginning conditional trading in London on October 11.

Britain has also agreed to hand 10 percent of Royal Mail's shares to staff in the largest share giveaway of any major UK privatisation. If distributed equally among the eligible 150,000 UK-based workers, each could receive 2,200 pounds worth.

The sale has been criticised by the opposition Labour party and unions, who are balloting for strike action. The ballot will close after Royal Mail is due to make its market debut however.

Goldman Sachs and UBS are running the sale of Royal Mail, and are also joint-bookrunners along with Barclays and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

(Editing by Jane Merriman)