Dutch transport giant TNT formally announced today plans to separate its mail and express businesses, effective Jan. 1, 2011.
The announcement, made at the company's annual analysts meeting, confirms what had been first disclosed in August. As part of the transaction, TNT will cease express operations and focus exclusively on its mail business. However, it will retain, at least temporarily, a 29.9-percent financial stake in the express operations. The value of that stake will be returned to shareholders as soon as possible, TNT said.
Separately, Peter Bakker, TNT's CEO for the past 10 years, announced that he will resign after the separation of the two companies is completed. In a statement, Bakker said the transaction "provides shareholders the opportunity to invest in two sector leaders."
The announcement effectively puts one of the big four global express leaders in play, and could trigger a bidding war among the three largest express companies—FedEx Corp., UPS Inc., and DHL Express—for TNT's intra-European and intercontinental assets.
TNT's express business is focused on intra-European and international operations linked to Europe; it has almost no presence in the U.S. market, although it operates a trans-Atlantic air-ground network with U.S. trucker Con-way Inc.
Of the four main express companies, FedEx is considered to have the weakest competitive position in Europe. Acquiring TNT could be a boon to FedEx's operations on the Continent. For arch-rival UPS, which has a larger presence in Europe than FedEx, an acquisition of TNT would significantly strengthen its competitive position against DHL, considered the market leader in Europe.