LONDON (Reuters) – Private equity group CVC Partners has offered to pay just under 2 billion pounds ($3.21 billion) for a 30 percent stake in state-owned postal group Royal Mail, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
The bid is higher than a rival offer from Dutch logistics group TNT (TNT.AS) but below the government’s original target, the newspaper said.
A spokeswoman for the government’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) said the process was confidential and declined to comment further.
A proposed law to sell a minority stake in Royal Mail goes before lawmakers in June and is expected to face stiff opposition from unions and many within Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s own party.
More than 140 members of parliament have signed a motion opposing the deal which means Brown will need the support of the opposition Conservatives to get the measure through.
Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has been pushing for the sale of up to 30 percent of the group, keen to shake up Royal Mail’s management and bring in fresh investment.
CVC Partners has emerged as the front-runner because it is prepared to inject a substantial sum to modernise Royal Mail’s technology, something the government has said is essential to safeguard the group’s long-term future, according to the newspaper. (Reporting by Christina Fincher and John Bowker, Editing by Dean Yates and Erica Billingham)