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FedEx bulks up in Europe, buying TNT Express for $4.8 billion

FedEx Corp (FDX) is looking to succeed where United Parcel Service (UPS) failed, with a $4.8 billion all-cash bid for Dutch-based shipper TNT Express NV (TNTEY).

The deal, which has already been agreed with TNT’s board, would make FedEx the third-largest delivery company in Europe after UPS and Deutsche Post AG (DPSTF), the owner of DHL. It could also herald a long-awaited consolidation of the industry in Europe, which has been struggling with razor-thin profit margins as the Eurozone has labored to regain economic momentum.

TNT has lost money for the last two years and many of its recent losses have come from restructuring measures, which have seen it retreat from some international markets. In February, it had warned shareholders that its core business probably wouldn’t recover until next year at the earliest.

“While we did not solicit an acquisition, we truly believe that FedEx’s proposal, both from a financial and a non-financial view, is good news for all stakeholders,” TNT CEO Tex Gunning said in a joint statement. “With this offer our shareholders can already reap benefits today that otherwise would only have been available in the longer run.”

FedEx, which has over six times TNT’s annual revenue, has valued the company 33% higher than the stock market did before it closed for Easter, and 42% higher than the average price over the last three months.

UPS had tried to buy TNT in 2013 (for a price that was nearly 20% higher), but its deal had been shot down by European antitrust regulators. However, FedEx has a much smaller footprint in Europe, which means that the antitrust concerns should be more manageable. In a joint statement, the two companies claimed “a high degree of deal certainty” and said they’re “confident that anti-trust concerns, if any, can be addressed adequately in a timely fashion.”

Under the team of the deal, TNT’s headquarters in Amsterdam will become the group’s HQ in Europe.

The two companies said that Dutch mail company PostNL, which is TNT’s biggest shareholder with 14.7% of the company, had already agreed to sell its shares.

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