The FT has reported that the Dutch post and logistics group TNT, has received renewed speculation of a possible takeover. A German private equity investor said he was trying to form a consortium to bid for the company. Cornelius Geber told the FT: “I can confirm that through my [private equity] company, CG Beteiligungs AG, we are currently working on a possible deal [to buy TNT].” He said he was in talks with at least two financial investors and at least two strategic buyers, which had expressed interest in a joint approach for TNT. “We have not yet decided who to go with,” he said, adding that his plan was at an early stage. TNT shares added 10.69 per cent to €22.98, giving the Dutch group a market capitalisation of €9.5bn ($11.1bn). In September a German newspaper reported that UPS was interested in TNT, quoting a senior executive at the US express company. A move by private equity buyers would be the latest example of interest in European mail operators, a reflection of attractive cash generative post activities.
In the summer CVC Capital, the UK buy-out group, bought a stake in the Danish post office Post Danmark, which TNT had coveted. Last month CVC and Post Danmark bought almost half of Belgian post office La Poste. CG Beteiligungs is more an advisory firm than an investor in its own right. Mr Geber is a former executive at Swiss logistics group Kühne+Nagel and a one-time external adviser to Klaus Zumwinkel, Deutsche Post’s chief executive.
He also sits on the supervisory board of chemicals group Celanese after assisting private equity group Blackstone to buy out the business last year. However, some of Mr Geber’s other initiatives have come to nothing, such as his claim last year that he was preparing to buy out the logistics operations of troubled German retailer KarstadtQuelle.
Karl Green, senior re-search analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, said a bid would make sense because TNT was “between a rock and a hard place strategically”. “It has a fantastic express business that is regionally constrained, a mail business that is doing well under the circumstances and a logistics business that has failed to deliver,” Mr Green said. The Dutch government holds a stake of about 10 per cent in TNT, as well as a “golden share” that would allow it to block a bid. Mr Green believed that was “a hurdle, but not insurmountable”. The government has indicated its willingness to reduce its shareholding over time. It is subject to a lock-up period until July 200