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Royal Mail, GLS need big investments soon, billionaire suitor Kretinsky says



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Adds quote, details on partner, other investments, Sainsbury's, in paragraphs 6-7, 13-20

By Jan Lopatka, Jason Hovet and Anousha Sakoui

PRAGUE, May 29 (Reuters) -Royal Mail and its sister business GLS IDSI.L need sizable, almost immediate investments to defend market share and face shifting market trends, Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky told Reuters on Wednesday after the group's owner agreed to a 3.57 billion pound ($4.55 billion) takeover.

"It is important for logistics companies not to miss this out-of-home delivery wave, which means they need to be ready to invest now," Kretinsky said.

"We believe that if the group doesn't respond properly on the out of the home solutions it may have a detrimental impact on its market share. And specifically in the UK, any shrinkage of the market share would be fatal."

The offer valued International Distributions Services IDSI.L, owner of Royal Mail and international parcel service GLS, at 370 pence per share.

Kretinsky, IDS' biggest shareholder with a 27.6% stake, said the acquisition fit with his EP Group's strategy aimed at logistics as one of its core focus areas.

"It is a moment when the European postal market is once again evolving," he said.

"It will be probably the next two to three years to come which will decide what company will play what role in the out-of-home delivery solutions," he said referring to delivery lockers and pick-up spots.

Royal Mail, whose iconic red post boxes with the Royal crest dot the country, has struggled with labour strikes, competition and loss of market share.

Kretinsky, in a rare interview done online from a car while in Paris, said that taking over the company would allow management to focus on longer-term strategy better than as a public company.

He said about 20,000 parcel boxes for package deliveries in Britain would require investment of 350-400 million pounds ($508.44 million) for Royal mail, and GLS needed about the same.

"We will encourage the management, give permission to management to implement very quickly such a rollout," he said.

It could be financed from internal sources and, if needed, Kretinsky's parent group's free cash flow generation of 2-3 billion euros per year, he said.

Kretinsky holds majority of the EP Group, which is bidding for IDS with long-term co-investor J&T Capital Partners.

UK Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt has said any takeover bid for Royal Mail would be subject to "normal" national security scrutiny but not be opposed in principle.

Kretinsky said he wanted to seek ways to allow British citizens to invest into Royal Mail in the future even if it is taken private.

Kretinsky, whose net worth is valued at $9.4 billion by Forbes, said GLS had the potential to grow its market share and Kretinsky's group would also look whether further acquisitions on continental Europe might make sense. GLS would be the logical platform for any such acquisitions, he said.

Kretinsky has made a fortune in investing into European coal power plants before taking on greener energy assets, and branching out into other sectors.

While energy remains important, he has said that key development areas were retail, where he has taken a large stake in German retailer Metro or took over France's Casino. In logistics, he also holds a 29.9% stake in Dutch PostNL.

He has also taken stakes in media and just last month agreed to take 20% in Thyssenkrupp's steel business - an energy-intensive business Kretinsky sees as an opportunity given his power production holdings across Europe.

Kretinsky also told Reuters he had no plans to make an offer to take over retailer Sainsbury's SBRY.L, where his group holds 10%.

($1 = 0.7867 pounds)



Reporting by Jan Lopatka, Jason Hovet and Anousha Sakoui. Editing by Jane Merriman

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