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There has been much controversy surrounding the possible privatisation of Royal Mail among unions, but business minister Michael Fallon has warned that if they continue to fight a flotation on the London Stock Exchange, the government will consider selling it to an international buyer.

In an interview with The Observer last week, Fallon revealed that there has already been significant interest in the postal operator from foreign buyers, which are rumoured to include the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar and potential investors in Canada and the United States.

And yesterday (16 May) the government came another step closer to selling the firm off by appointing share registration firm Equiniti to begin to set up an employee share scheme.

But is a 497-year old British brand with the Queen’s head on nearly every postage stamp ready to be sold off to a non-UK buyer? The Communication Workers Union (CWU) and other bodies fighting to keep a state-owned postal service will no doubt continue to press the government on the issue. Surely, for them, a transparent Royal Mail listed on the UK Stock Exchange would be a more attractive option than a Royal Mail owned by a less opaque international fund?