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Royal Mail, one of Britain’s oldest and most iconic institutions, has been sold to Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský for £3.5 billion. The takeover bid from Křetínský’s EP Group was accepted by the owner of Royal Mail, International Distribution Services, at a price of £3.70 per share. This marks the first time that Royal Mail will be owned by a foreign entity, highlighting the changing landscape of the postal service industry.

The sale of Royal Mail comes after a challenging period for the company, which has faced a sharp decline in demand for its services. The postal service posted a loss of £348 million for the year ending on March 31, although this was a slight improvement from the previous year’s loss of £419 million. The privatization of Royal Mail in 2013 has led to financial difficulties, and the takeover by Křetínský’s EP Group is seen as a potential solution to stabilize the company.

Křetínský’s acquisition of Royal Mail comes at a crucial moment politically in the United Kingdom, as the country prepares for a general election on July 4. The proposed takeover will be subject to a national security review, potentially under a new government. The Labour Party, which is favored to win the election according to opinion polls, has already expressed concerns about the sale and its impact on workers and the provision of public services.

Labour’s business spokesperson, Jonathan Reynolds, has called on the EP Group to provide assurances that Royal Mail’s headquarters will remain in the UK and that the company will prioritize its workers’ interests. Reynolds emphasized the importance of protecting Royal Mail’s British identity and role in public life, signaling the party’s commitment to safeguarding the postal service under foreign ownership.

Daniel Křetínský, a low-profile Czech billionaire, has built his wealth through a diverse portfolio of European energy companies, retailers, and football clubs. With an estimated net worth of $7.7 billion, Křetínský has significant financial resources to support his acquisition of Royal Mail. His ownership of a 27% stake in West Ham United Football Club underscores his interest in diverse investments and business ventures.

The sale of Royal Mail to Daniel Křetínský represents a significant shift in ownership for the historic institution. The implications of the takeover, including potential changes in leadership, operations, and strategic direction for the postal service, will be closely monitored by stakeholders, including politicians, workers, and the general public. The future of Royal Mail under foreign ownership and its impact on the broader postal service industry in the UK remains to be seen as the transition unfolds in the coming months.

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