After three failed bids for Dutch postal service PostNL, Belgium’s Bpost is back again, swelling its offer on Wednesday to €5.75 a share, an increase of €0.10 over the previous attempt.
Terming the latest offer its ‘best and final offer’, Bpost also made concessions designed to alleviate fears in the Netherlands over the Belgian state’s shareholding in the Dutch company, the Financieele Dagblad said.
In its latest bid Bpost is also guaranteeing the pension rights of PostNL employees, long a stumbling block in the negotiations. ‘We’ve been following developments closely,’ said economic affairs minister Henk Kamp. ‘But once again it is up to PostNL and its shareholders to decide.’
A PostNL spokesman said only that it had received the offer and will issue a press release when it has a reaction. Sources in Belgium say PostNL must approve or reject the offer by Monday.
Bpost first made a €2.5 bn offer for PostNL in the beginning of November. But PostNL termed it an unexpected and undervalued offer and rejected it flatly. The Dutch government, MPs as well as trade unions and large customers also opposed the plan.
Large users such as ING, Aegon, the Nationale Postcodeloterij and the ANWB strongly oppose a takeover of PostNL by Bpost. Their lobby group VGP said the move would ‘set the Dutch postal market back by 10 years.’
The slow changeover from the government-owned PTT to the privatised PostNL has resulted in little improvement in competition, VGP said. ‘A takeover of PostNL by a foreign group in which the government has a significant stake could negate all the advances so far made in the liberalisation of the Dutch postal market,’ it said.
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