*Deutsche Post Goes Public

Germany's national postal service, Deutsche Post, launched its highly anticipated initial public offering last week, raising $5.6 billion in Germany's largest IPO this year.

The stock closed at 21.51 euros ($18.25) in Frankfurt, Germany, a gain of 2.4 percent over the government's issue price of 21 euros ($17.84). More than eight times as many investors had applied for shares than the amount available.

Private investors received about 50 percent of the shares, and those who applied early were given a reduced stock price of 20.50 euros ($17.41). The offering will put about a quarter of the company in shareholders' hands, with the government retaining a majority stake.

The postal industry has been watching the German post office on its course of acquisition and expansion before its IPO closely. DP's plan is to become the world's leading integrated mail, express, logistics and financial services firm.

Over the past three years, DP has acquired more than two dozen companies. Over the summer, for example, it acquired DHL International Ltd., Brussels, Belgium, the world's largest express service outside the United States.

Deutsche Post Global Mail, the company's international arm, also over the summer made its third acquisition this year in the United States, buying global mailer International Postal Consultants, Hanover, MD. DP bought two other U.S. firms in the spring — Quick Mail, New York, a corporate mail specialist with annual sales of $24 million, and the international mail division of Skymail International, Salt Lake City.

DP also acquired the United Kingdom's Herald International Mailing in the spring. The company — one of the three largest private international mailers in the UK — and the acquisition strengthen DP's position in the letter market. DP also acquired SAV S.P., an Italian express package delivery service with sales of 100 million deutschemarks (about $49 million) last year.

Analysts predict that DP's revenue this year should top 30 billion euros ($25.57 billion), putting DP head to head with U.S. giants such as United Parcel Service Inc., Atlanta, and FedEx Corp. Memphis, TN, in terms of being a world delivery force. Currently, however, most of Deutsche Post's profit still comes from its monopoly mail business in Germany.

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