TNT Denies Royal Mail Offer, Says It’s Still Interested

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch mail company TNT NV (TNT.AS) said on Monday it had not yet made a bid for Britain’s Royal Mail, but said it was interested in the company and would consult shareholders if it does make an offer.

British newspaper Sunday Telegraph earlier reported private equity group CVC Partners offered to pay just under 2 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) for a 30 percent stake in state-owned Royal Mail, adding the bid was higher than a rival offer from TNT but below the government’s original target. [ID:nLV387761]

“That is not correct. We have a strict obligation to inform our shareholders up front if we are going to make a bid. That’s what we will do — if we are to make a bid we will first seek approval from shareholders,” TNT spokesman Ernst Moeksis said.

Moeksis said Europe’s second-largest mail and delivery company is still interested in pursuing Royal Mail and added that talks with the British government are ongoing.

“We’ve constantly confirmed our interest, but the process is not at the bid stage as far as we know,” he said.

“We had several talks from the moment we made our interest publicly, but can’t elaborate. These are talks between TNT and the British government.”

Shares in TNT were up 1.8 percent at 14.10 euros at 0930 GMT, compared with a 2.7 percent rise in the DJ Stoxx industrial goods and services index .SXNP.

Since April 8, when TNT Chief Executive Peter Bakker said the company was looking into possibilities around Royal Mail, its shares have risen 7 percent, against a rise of nearly 17 percent for the local large-cap AEX index. .AEX

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 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s own party. ($1=.6236 Pound)

By Aaron Gray-Block
(Additional reporting by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by David Holmes and Simon Jessop)