British auditor: Government too cautious in Royal Mail privatization

Britain's public-spending watchdog says the government cost taxpayers millions by selling off the Royal Mail at too low a price.

The National Audit Office says shares in the postal service were sold "substantially below" their actual trading price.

Royal Mail shares were offered at 330 pence ($5.49), but on the first day of London Stock Exchange trading in October closed at 455 pence. They traded Tuesday at 565 pence.

Audit Office chief Amyas Morse said the government's approach "was marked by deep caution, the price of which was borne by the taxpayer."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the government had succeeded in selling the Royal Mail to "responsible long-term investors."

But opposition Labour Party spokesman Chuka Umunna said the sale had left taxpayers "shortchanged by hundreds of millions of pounds."