The private equity group CVC Capital Partners is to take a 25 per cent stake in Denmark's national postal operator in a move which could provide the springboard for an attack on the UK mail market.
CVC was named yesterday as the Danish government's preferred partner for the Kr10bn (£935m) part privatisation of Post Danmark.
Reports from Copenhagen suggest CVC will pay about Kr2bn for its stake in the business, having beaten off competition from Germany's Deutsche Post and the Dutch postal operator TPG.
CVC said the partnership with Post Danmark would allow it to play an "active role" in the consolidation of the European postal industry as more national mail markets are deregulated. It also said it intended to develop Post Danmark internationally.
Commenting on the possibility of a move into the UK market, which is due to be fully liberalised from the start of next year, a spokeswoman said: "It is early days yet to say what the opportunities are, but everything is a possibility."
CVC has no direct experience of running postal networks but it is a shareholder in the Spanish power grid operator Red Eléctrica and Spain's largest private hospital group IDC/Recoletas.
The UK postal market is worth about £5bn a year. So far the postal regulator Postcomm has licensed companies to offer services in competition to Royal Mail.
Deutsche Post and TPG have long-term licences to operate in the UK.
At present, postal firms other than Royal Mail are limited to delivering letters for big business customers but from 1 January next year the market will be thrown open to competition.Reuse content