Belgian postal company Bpost decided on Wednesday evening not to pursue its attempt to acquire its Dutch counterpart PostNL. Bpost said its final €2.7b offer was pointless due to heavy opposition from the Netherlands, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Thursday.
Bpost started its takeover attempt on 6 November when it made a €5.65 per share bid for PostNL which was refused. Eventually on 30 November Bpost came out with its ‘best and final offer’ of €5.75 per share which was coupled with assurances designed to alleviate Dutch concerns about the role of the Belgian government in the merged company.
On Wednesday PostNL firmly rejected this offer. And its CEO Herna Verhagen once again voiced concerns about the role of the Belgian government. The Belgian state now has a 50.1% holding in Bpost which would be reduced to 40% if the takeover had succeeded.
PostNL’s position found wide support among Dutch politicians. ‘I think this is the right course,’ economic affairs minister Henk Kamp said. He had been very critical of the bid over the past month, calling it a ‘step backward’. A majority of MPs also took this stance, sources told the FD.
Dutch political interference did not go down well in Belgium, however. ‘I experienced more political interference from the Dutch in a single weekend than I did from the Belgian government in my whole career,’ Bpost Koen van Gerven told Belgian financial paper De Tijd.
‘We discussed the logic of the deal with Kamp last August,’ Van Gerven said. But Kamp told parliament on Monday that no one from Bpost or the Belgian government had contacted him.
A number of shareholders in PostNL may be considering calling an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting to discuss the future of PostNL, the FD said. The majority of the concern is held by American and British investors.