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UPS drops bid for TNT Express

Jan. 14, 2013 at 12:17 PM

ATLANTA, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- United Parcel Service said it would drop a bid to buy Dutch shipping firm TNT Express, a $6.9 billion bid that did not win approval from antitrust regulators.

UPS had already agreed to carve up the deal to win approval from the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, which had asked for UPS to shed assets to make sure it did not have too strong a position in the shipping industry in Europe.

Among the assets UPS would have sold was TNT's air freight division, which would have been necessary, anyway, as the EU forbids foreign companies to own European airlines.

The New York Times reported Monday UPS had begun negotiating with regulators in November about what it was willing to give up to secure the purchase. UPS had also been willing to sell some assets to DPD, the shipping company 85 percent owned by a division of the French postal service.

"We are extremely disappointed with the European Commission's position. We proposed significant and tangible remedies designed to address the European Commission's concerns with the transaction," UPS chief executive D. Scott Davis said in a statement.

Analysts said only a firm smaller than UPS could step in and secure a deal to buy TNT. Shipping giant DHL, for example, might have the ability to buy TNT, but would run into the same antitrust roadblocks hit by UPS, the analysts said.

"The European Union's decision is very disappointing. It's hard to see the company being bought by anyone else," Stephen Furlong, an analyst at Davy Research in Dublin, told the Times.

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