Royal Mail, which lost $450 million last year, bought by Czech billionaire

The owner of Britain’s Royal Mail said on Wednesday it had accepted a 3.6 billion pound ($4.6 billion) takeover offer from 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 pounds ($6.6 billion).

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

Royal Mail, long state-owned, was privatized by the UK Conservative government in 2013 and has struggled financially.

“Royal Mail is as British as they come,” wrote Jonathan Reynolds, Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Trade and Member of Parliament, in a May 15 letter to the EP Group. “The Labor Party will take the necessary steps to safeguard its undeniable identity and place in public life.”

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 retain its name, brand, headquarters in the United Kingdom and the obligation to deliver mail six days a week.

Křetínský, which already owns a 27% stake in Royal Mail’s parent company, has an extensive portfolio of business interests across Europe. In the Czech Republic he owns book publishers, a sports newspaper and magazines, and is co-owner of the French newspaper Le Monde. He has stakes in companies such as Macy’s, Foot Locker and the British 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 the history and tradition of Royal Mail, and I know that owning this business will come with enormous responsibility, not only for the employees but also for the citizens who depend on its services every day.” days”.

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

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

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