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Airborne Sets Aug. 14 Vote on DHL Takeover

Airborne Inc. confirmed yesterday that it has scheduled an Aug. 14 shareholder vote on its proposed takeover by DHL Worldwide Express, a unit of Deutsche Post World Net.

The Seattle company, the nation's third-largest package carrier, set the date in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing July 11 that is being mailed to shareholders on or about July 16. Airborne agreed earlier this year to be acquired by DHL Worldwide Express.

Upon conclusion of the acquisition, Airborne's air operations would become an independent public company called ABX Air Inc. that would be separate from its ground operations. If shareholders and regulators approve the deal, ABX Air would be wholly owned by Airborne's current shareholders, who each would get one share of ABX Air for every Airborne share they hold.

Airborne and Deutsche Post said the merger would create a stronger competitor to United Parcel Service and FedEx in the U.S. express delivery market. FedEx and UPS seek to block the deal, however, claiming that ABX Air would be controlled by Deutsche Post — a violation of U.S. limits on foreign control of domestic airlines.

Reportedly, Airborne said in its SEC filing that the Deutsche Post takeover is structured so it would proceed even if the German delivery giant were found to be improperly in control of DHL Airways or the airline unit of Airborne. A hearing on the DHL Airways dispute is scheduled for next month.

Airborne said it expects to begin seeking U.S. Department of Transportation approval this month for the spinoff of the airline unit. The company originally expected that approval process to begin in May. Airborne expects the takeover to be completed in the third quarter.

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