*German and Dutch Postal Services Expand International Reach

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WIESBADEN, GERMANY--The German and Dutch postal services announced major foreign acquisitions last week, in what is shaping up as a global mail war with key players fighting for market share.

The Germans bought a 50 percent stake in the United Kingdom's Securor Distribution for 223 million pounds sterling, about $400 million, while the Dutch bought GMA, an alternative mail-delivering service with strong roots in East Germany.

The Securor group has an annual turnover of 1.35 billion pounds, about $2 billion. It is a leader in the courier and package delivery service in both the United Kingdom and in Ireland. The acquisition follows hard on the heels of the German purchase of Global Mail in the United States.

In addition, the German post offices International Mail Service subsidiary plans to set up an office in Washington near Global Mail's headquarters. A third arm of the German post office, Dublin-based Fortress Europe is already active in the United States.

GMA is much smaller with an annual turnover of only 18 German marks, about $11 million, but it has a nationwide distribution network of 8,000 carriers in place. The Dutch wouldn't reveal the purchase price for GMA. It has specialized in delivering unaddressed mail but as the German post office surrendered parts of its letter monopoly -- letters over 50 grams may now be delivered privately -- GMA has moved into the mainstream.

The Dutch clearly wanted a foothold in the German market from which it could expand swiftly once postal monopolies are dismantled in the EU in 2003.

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