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AMSTERDAM, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Dutch postal company PostNL rejected a raised 2.54 billion euro ($2.7 billion) takeover offer from Belgium’s Bpost on Wednesday, saying it lacked political support and would hurt profit.
PostNL shares slumped more than 9 percent to 4.30 euros following the announcement, well below Bpost’s Dec. 1 offer of 5.75 euros per share, which the Belgian company had said was its third and final bid.
Much of the Dutch opposition to the deal has centred on the Belgian government’s influence over Bpost. At the moment, it has a 51 percent stake but that would fall to 40 percent under its merger proposal.
PostNL said it was concerned the Belgian stake would add layers of bureaucracy and render the Dutch business less competitive. It said one reason it had not entered formal merger talks with Bpost was because of opposition from Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp.
“One of the main concerns expressed by several Dutch politicians relates to the 40 percent share and the influence the Belgian government would retain in the combination,” PostNL said in a statement.
Bpost had argued that a combined company would be a major European player with cost efficiencies but PostNL’s management said it made no sense to have Bpost acquire a privately owned and more agile business.
“It goes beyond just politics, it goes more broadly to all our stakeholders. We are very concerned about a lack of critical support from our stakeholders, including staff, clients and the government,” PostNL Chief Executive Officer Herna Verhagen said.
“If you look at the underlying reasons why, you see we were looking out for the interests of our shareholders,” she told reporters.
Several major shareholders and smaller investors had asked that PostNL at least sit down and discuss the offer with Bpost’s management but the Dutch company’s board unanimously rejected the requests.
$1 = 0.9322 euros Reporting by Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch; editing by David Clarke