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Royal Mail owner could be taken over by Czech billionaire

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The bid has come at a key moment for Royal Mail’s parent company.
Business reporter
Wednesday 17 April 2024 16:47, UK
The owner of Royal Mail has rejected an attempt by its biggest shareholders to take over the business but another bid is in the works.
Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky already owns 27.5% of International Distribution Services (IDS), which owns Royal Mail, but earlier this month he put forward a cash offer to buy the remaining shares.
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That was rejected but Mr Kretinsky’s company – EP Group – still wants to own all of IDS.
EP Group said it will „engage constructively” with the board of IDS, as the group „considers all its options”.
Under UK rules EP Group now has until 15 May to make a bid for the Royal Mail parent or walk away.
Who is Daniel Kretinsky?
There has already been scrutiny of Mr Kretinsky’s ownership in the postal company but a government review into his IDS investment over national security concerns led to no intervention.
Mr Kretinsky also owns parts of West Ham Football Club and Sainsbury’s.
He controls EP Group which has financial interests in energy, logistics, and food retail.
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Talk of deal follows tough years since privatisation
Royal Mail was taken out of public ownership in 2013 and in 2022 its London Stock Exchange-listed parent company changed its name to International Distribution Services.
In recent years it has been hit by postal worker strikes and fines for missing delivery requirements.
The company’s finances have been hit, with fewer letters being sent in recent years.
Its chairman said in 2022 it was losing £1m a day.
Last month it put forward plans to end second-class letter deliveries on Saturdays and to cut the service to every other weekday.
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EP Group makes case for further ‘private investment’
EP Group said it recognises that Royal Mail is in „a challenging situation”.
„Weak financial performance, poor service delivery and a slow transformation, in the face of a market going through structural change, have put the business under unsustainable pressure,” it said.
Private investment was crucial, it added.
The group said: „With the increasing competition from multinational companies in the UK postal market, private investment in Royal Mail becomes crucial.
„Royal Mail is an important national asset that would benefit from being able to take a longer-term view, and is prepared to support this iconic business as it transforms and rebuilds into a modern postal operator delivering high-quality service to its customers, stability to its workforce and sustainable financial performance.”
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After the news of the attempted takeover broke on Wednesday afternoon, the value of IDS grew as its share price rose by 18%.
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