Wires

UPDATE 2-Direct Line shares rise on London debut

Share

* Shares up 3 pct at London opening

* RBS sells 30 percent of Direct Line shares

* RBS raises 787 mln pounds from sale

* RBS must sell entire shareholding by 2014

* Retail investors take up 15 percent of offer

(Recasts with share opening, adds detail, background)

By Matt Scuffham and Myles Neligan

LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Shares in British insurer DirectLine opened 3 percent higher on their London StockExchange debut on Thursday after Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)

said it had raised 787 million pounds ($1.3 billion)from the sale of 30 percent of the company's shares.

The initial public offering was priced at 175 pence pershare, close to the middle of the range originally set andvaluing the business at 2.6 billion pounds ($4.2 billion). Theshares were trading at 181 pence in early deals.

RBS said it would sell 450 million Direct Line shares,representing 30 percent of the business, with a 15 percentover-allotment option. It will raise 787 million pounds from thesale, prior to the exercise of that option.

There had been concerns that investor appetite for theinitial public offering would be damaged by British anti-trustregulators investigating the car insurance market, due tosuggestions that consumers were being overcharged.

However, analyst Eamonn Flanagan at brokerage Shore Capitalsaid the price for Direct Line stock was a "reasonable outcome".

The sale benefited from strong demand from British retailinvestors, who have had few opportunities to participate inlarge-scale IPOs in recent years.

On a conference call with reporters, Direct Line ChiefExecutive Paul Geddis said retail investors had purchasedbetween 5,000 pounds and 6,000 pounds worth of shares on averageand had taken up 15 percent of the shares sold.

RBS is selling Direct Line in return for winning approvalfrom European Union regulators for a bailout during the 2008financial crisis that left it 82 percent state-owned.

The price was near the mid-point of the 160 to 195 pencerange set by the British bank when it launched the IPO on Sept.28.

RBS has been under pressure to secure a good price for thebusiness, with taxpayers sitting on a loss of 21.5 billionpounds after Britain pumped in 45 billion to rescue the bank.

"This is another important milestone in RBS Group'srestructuring plan," said RBS Finance Director Bruce Van Saun.

RBS said it would hold a 65.3 percent stake in Direct Line,assuming the overallotment option was taken up.

Under the EU directive, RBS must sell more than 50 percentof Direct Line by the end of 2013 and the rest of its holding ayear later.

($1 = 0.6242 pound)

(Editing by Dan Lalor and David Holmes)

((matthew.scuffham@thomsonreuters.com)(02075426734)(Reuters

Messaging: matthew.scuffham.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: DIRECTLINE IPO/