UPS bid for TNT hits antitrust snag

Jan. 12, 2013 at 5:32 PM
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BRUSSELS, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- European regulators said a United Parcel Service bid for Dutch shipping firm TNT Express required compensation to offset antitrust issues.

"We need to substitute for TNT's role with an equivalent player," said Joaquin Almunia, who heads the European Commission's antitrust panel.

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday the European Union forbids a foreign company from owning an European airline, which prompted TNT to sell its air cargo company TNT Airways in November to ASL Aviation Group, based in Ireland.

That deal, for an undisclosed sum, is contingent on the UPS and TNT merger going through, the Journal reported.

Concurrently, the French government has been lobbying for the antitrust panel to allow shipping service DPD to take control of some assets to strengthen its position. DPD is controlled by the French government, which owns 83 percent through the postal service's GeoPost division.

German firm DPD Systemlogistik GmbH owns 10.5 percent, while DPD Zeitfracht GmbH owns 6.2 percent.

French government officials did not respond to requests for a comment and GeoPost Group turned down an offer to comment, the Journal said.

Analysts said Almunia has a reputation for playing tough until the last minute, when companies relent and give up some assets to help a deal satisfy antitrust concerns.

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