Cat and mouse – bpost and PostNL

Over the last week the Belgian postal operator bpost has made advances on PostNL with a view to a takeover but so far at least, these advances have been rebuffed. The will they / won’t they game continues…

Late last week, it was leaked that bpost was considering an improved offer on an advance it made during the summer. PostNL released a statement saying, “We have confidence in our stand alone strategy” – but also added: “The Supervisory Board and Board of Management of PostNL are reviewing and considering bpost’s unsolicited proposal with the support of financial and legal advisors, acting in accordance with their fiduciary duties. In doing so, they will carefully consider the interests of all of PostNL’s stakeholders.”

The statement continued, “PostNL was unpleasantly surprised by the rumours in the media yesterday that bpost would be preparing a possible offer. We have taken notice of this morning’s public announcement by bpost and we confirm that we are not in discussions with bpost.

“We have confidence in our stand alone strategy. We have made good progress in implementing our strategy and enforcing PostNL’s sustainability over the last couple of years. We are committed and expect to resume dividend payments in 2017 and to create long term value for our shareholders.”

A new offer was then made by bpost who published a statement saying that due to the leak to the press it would, “accelerate its decision making process regarding a possible approach to PostNL”.

In a statement issued on Monday 6 November, bpost said that the proposed offer would consist of a proposed price of €2.825 in cash per PostNL share plus 0.1202 bpost shares per PostNL share, representing a value of €5.65 per PostNL share. The proposed offer implies a value of €2,502m for 100% of PostNL’s issued and outstanding ordinary shares.

The Belgian postal operator said that it is “full convinced of the strategic merit of the combination of PostNL and bpost”.

“In view of the consolidation trend in Europe, the strategic rational of the combination may indeed be more powerful now than ever before,” said bpost.

The company also claimed: “The renewal proposal addresses the views and feedback given by Post NL during the negotiations between PostNL and bpost that ended in May 2016 and takes into account market and stakeholder responses to bpost’s earlier approach.”

Koen van Gerven, bpost’s CEO, commented: “We have a unique opportunity to join forces and stand strong together. The combination of our companies enables us to become one of the leading players in Europe.”

Taken together, PostNL and bpost would be serving more than 28m potential customers in the Netherlands and Belgium.

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