Update: TPG, British Post Office, Singapore Post Form Alliance

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Dutch postal giant TNT Post Group N.V., Amsterdam, has formed a cross-border joint venture with the British Post Office and Singapore Post, strengthening its No. 1 position in the international mail market.

The combined private company - which will announce its name and CEO this summer - will be the world's largest business mailing partnership with total sales of $429.4 million serving more than 200 countries, the companies said at a press conference in Amsterdam earlier this month.

The joint venture will be headquartered in Belgium and will be 51 percent owned by TPG, with the remainder equally divided between the state-owned British Post Office and Singapore Post, a subsidiary of Singapore Telecom.

According to the companies, customers throughout Europe, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region will benefit from the synergies of the joint venture, which include access to a combined worldwide delivery network; the development of specialized products and services; and the ability to offer a wide range of pricing options.

All three partners have global marketing expertise: TPG and the British Post Office operate mailing and distribution services throughout Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas in complementary geographic areas; and Singapore Post has state-of-the-art facilities and established business relationships in Asia.

As a result, "we can offer our joint customer base a whole variety of products and services that will give them a much greater choice in what they are buying," said David Walker, president of Royal Mail U.S. Inc., the division of Royal Mail that mails First-Class and advertising letter mail from the United States internationally.

"Direct marketers, publishers [and] e-commerce merchants ... will all benefit from the springboard to Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas," Ad Scheepbouwer, TPG's CEO, said in a statement.

The joint venture was not as large as investors had hoped, said analysts, as TPG has been subject to speculation for some time it would link up with the United Parcel Service in the United States.

The move comes as the European Union's 15 member states are preparing to liberalize their national postal markets by 2003. By sealing the joint venture, TPG, the EU's most liberalized and most profitable mail operator, solidifies its competitive position.

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