From London to New York, Toronto to Tokyo, brokers are boning up on the details of the largest stock offering the world has seen. In case the hype hasn't hit your neck of the woods, British Telecommunications (BT) is going public. Just over 3 billion shares are being sold as half of the United Kingdom's goverment-owned telephone monopoly goes on the auction block.
British investors are buying up the lion's share of the $5 billion offering for John Bull's equivalent of the old Ma Bell. But investors in Japan, Canada, and the United States will have the opportunity to divvy up some 415 million shares. Stock will be sold in this country on Dec. 3 and trading will begin on the New York Stock Exchange the same day.
This gigantic offering has stirred great investor interest. ''It's like getting in on the origination of AT&T,'' says a vice-president at Kidder, Peabody & Co.
And if one remembers the convoluted calculations and unique twists of Ma Bell's breakup, one gets an inkling of what brokers have been pondering.
In the US, British Telecom stock will take the form of American Depositary Shares (ADS). One ADS will be worth 10 British shares. The price of a share has been fixed at (STR)1.30. So at current exchange rates, a share sells for $1.63.
Sound inexpensive? ''Yes, but one has to remember the pie is being divided up into many pieces - 3 billion,'' notes Peter Stott, vice-president at the First Boston Corporation's international department.
To make the stock even more accessible, British Telecom is being sold on the installment plan. Each share can be bought with a ''down payment'' of 50 pence (now worth about 621/2 cents). After making the first payment, the investor will own the shares and will be entitled to all voting rights and full dividends. But next June a bill will arrive for 40p (about 50 cents). The last payment of 40p is due in April 1986.
US investors can figure the cost of buying British Telecom as follows: Take the 50p down payment, multiply by 10, then multiply again by the current exchange rate. For example, using today's exchange rates, the first payment would be $6.25 (0.50 ((STR)) X 10 X $1.25 - the current pound equivalent) for one ADS, with $5 due next June and another $5 in April 1986.