Letter from de Lesseps
(Letter to Hippolyte de Lafosse, Cairo 22 March 1855)

Funding and shares

In a letter of 1855, Ferdinand de Lesseps sets out his aims for the planned floatation. He confirms his intention of giving preference to small shareholders:

    «You ask me along what lines I am intending to organise the financial distribution of the Company? I have only one fundamental idea on the subject, quite a decided one it is true, but it will take time and research to work out how it can be put into action. My aim is to enable the greatest possible number of small shareholders, from every country, to benefit from the profits generated by the Company.

    How would a dozen or so leading bankers react, if I were to agree to hand the concession over to them? They would propose that I should share a good many millions with them. They would then distribute, without spending a penny, shares to the value of 500 Francs, with heavy premiums, to the general multitude, making a great deal of noise about the fact that these shares will one day yield 25 to 30 percent, which incidentally could well be the truth.
    Why should we not simply appeal directly to the public? [...]»

Ferdinand de Lesseps