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Royal Mail owner paves way for historic takeover by Czech billionaire

A British Royal Mail logo is seen behind a postal worker walking at a delivery office in London, Monday, Oct. 19, 2009.
A British Royal Mail logo is seen behind a postal worker walking at a delivery office in London, Monday, Oct. 19, 2009. Copyright AKIRA SUEMORI/AP2009
Copyright AKIRA SUEMORI/AP2009
By AP with APTN
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The takeover deal will still need to be approved by International Distribution Services (IDS)'s shareholders at the September annual general meeting.


The owner of Royal Mail confirmed on Wednesday that it had accepted a £3.6 billion ($4.6 billion) takeover offer from the Czech investor, Daniel Křetínský.

Under the deal, Křetínský’s EP Group would buy International Distribution Services, which owns Royal Mail, for 370 pence ($4.72) per share.

Including debt, the deal values IDS at £5.2 billion ($6.6 billion).

It said EP Group would offer a series of “contractual commitments and intentions” to protect public service aspects of the 500-year-old postal service.

Long state-owned, Royal Mail was privatised by the U.K.’s Conservative government in 2013 and has struggled financially.

IDS said no major job losses were planned as part of the deal, which must be approved by shareholders. Under the plan, Royal Mail would maintain its name, branding, U.K. headquarters and the obligation to maintain six-day-a-week mail delivery.

Křetínský, who already holds a 27% stake in the Royal Mail’s parent company, has a vast, Europe-wide portfolio of business interests. In the Czech Republic, he owns book publishing houses, a sport daily and magazines, and he co-owns the French newspaper Le Monde. He has stakes in companies including Macy’s, Foot Locker and the U.K. supermarket chain Sainsbury’s.

He also owns a stake in the Premier League football team West Ham.

Křetínský said his company “has the utmost respect for Royal Mail’s history and tradition, and I know that owning this business will come with enormous responsibility -– not just to the employees but to the citizens who rely on its services every day.”

Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said he welcomed some of the commitments, but added that “the reality is postal workers across the U.K. have lost all faith in the senior management of Royal Mail and the service has been deliberately run down.”

“We will meet with EP Group next week and call for a complete reset in employee and industrial relations, the restoration of postal services and further commitments on the future of the company,” he said.

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