Welcome toThe Rothschild Archive'swebsite

Sources for business history: catalogues of bank files

Sources for art history: Catalogue of the pictures of Alfred de Rothschild 1901

Sources for yachting history: Plans for Nathaniel von Rothschild's yacht Veglia 1905

Sources for natural history: Walter 2nd Lord Rothschild and his zebra carriage: c.1910

Sources for global financial history: Map of lines of the Brazil Railway Company: c.1920

Sources for business history: index cards to bank files

Sources for social history: Rothschild Hospital Paris: 1920s

Sources for business history: detail of a Rothschild bond coupon

Sources for architectural history: Halton House: 1890s

Sources for the history of travel: Lionel de Rothschild's tours of Spain: 1909

Sources for local history: Tring Park: c.1900

Sources for Royal history: shooting party with Edward Prince of Wales: 1893

Sources for political history: Lionel de Rothschild: first Jewish MP: 1858

Sources for sporting history: St Amant winner of the Derby: 1904

Sources for local history: gardeners at Aston Clinton: 1899

Sources for Rothschild family history: Lionel de Rothschild's yacht Rhodora: 1927

Sources for London history: entrance to New Court: 1965

Sources for design history: plans for Lionel de Rothschild's Rolls-Royce: 1930

Sources for business history: Rothschild gold bars produced by the Royal Mint Refinery: 1930s

Sources for business history: letters of August Belmont Rothschild Agent in New York: 1860s

Exhibition - 'If you see Sid...Tell him!'

4: The legacy

The 1986 British Gas sale was truly innovative. It represented a landmark in the privatisation policy of the Government, and a triumph for Margaret Thatcher. Both Government and advisers were confident enough to sell a major nationalised industry all in one go, rather than in tranches, and, as the first truly international privatisation offer, it demonstrated the growing interest of investors around the world.

With its massive market capitalisation, some £5.6 billion, and international share offerings, it could be described as 'the corporate financier's privatisation'. Shares were sold simultaneously in the UK, the US, Canada, Japan and Europe, with a common prospectus, common underwriting timetable, common fee structure and universal share claw back. The minimum allocation of 100 shares, costing £135 in 1986, would be worth over ten times the sale price today. Thirty years later, "Tell Sid" remains a byword for how a state-owned business should be put into private hands, leaving a legacy that means any government is obliged to consider offering the public opportunities in any privatisation.

N M Rothschild & Sons Limited was at the heart of the worldwide phenomenon of privatisation which swept across the globe in the 1980s and 1990s, and Rothschild has been widely acknowledged as both pioneer and leading adviser in the field of privatisation. Following the sale of British Gas, Rothschild was involved in the privatisation of British Steel (1988), the ten UK Water Authorities (1989), the twelve electricity distribution boards (1990), British Coal, British Telecom (1991) and many other international privatisations in the next decade. In 1997, British Gas was demerged to create Centrica, BG Group and Transco. The main British Gas brand is still used today as a subsidiary of Centrica.

The exhibition ends here.

Detail of one of the many newspaper adverts to encourage investors

Detail of one of the many newspaper adverts to encourage investors