Royal Mail owner IDS set to agree $4.4 billion Kretinsky takeover bid

By Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) -Royal Mail’s parent company International Distributions Services is set to agree a 3.5 billion pound ($4.42 billion) takeover by Daniel Kretinsky if the Czech billionaire tables a formal offer, the British firm said on Wednesday.

Kretinsky’s investment vehicle EP Group sweetened its bid to buy the owner of one the world’s oldest postal companies for 370 pence per share, after an earlier bid of 320 pence was rejected by the London-listed firm last month.

IDS shares soared as much as 23% to 335 pence, their highest level in two years. They were last up 15% at 315 pence at 1439 GMT.

“The Board is minded to recommend this offer price, which it considers to be fair and reflects the value of GLS’ current growth plans and the progress being made on change at Royal Mail to adapt the business to a significant fall in the demand for letters and growth in parcels,” IDS Chairman Keith Williams said.

IDS owns UK’s Royal Mail, which is loss making, and international parcels network GLS.

Royal Mail was privatised in 2013 in one of Britain’s biggest state sell-offs in decades. Its initial public offering in October 2013 was priced at 330 pence per share.

Royal Mail, whose red post boxes decorated with the Royal Crest can be seen across Britain, has since suffered several setbacks including labour unrest and resistance to its plans to transform into a parcels-led firm.

The improved bid, which includes 360 pence in cash, represents a premium of about 73% to its share price before the initial bid was made public.

“The board has sought, and EP Group has agreed to offer as part of the proposal, a set of contractual undertakings to protect key public interest factors and recognise Royal Mail’s status as a key part of national infrastructure,” IDS said.

It is expected the commitment to offer these contractual undertakings to the British government would be reflected in the cooperation agreement between the parties if a firm offer is made, it added.

EP Group now has until May 29 to make a formal offer or walk away.

A deal could trigger an intervention from the British government under the terms of the National Security and Investment Act, which gives ministers a greater say over deals involving critical infrastructure.

The business ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

EP is a 100% shareholder in VESA Equity investment which owns Kretinsky’s IDS stake of nearly 28%.

($1 = 0.7927 pounds)

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Tomasz Janowski)


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