Note: The following article is expanded from the current issue of Cargo Facts Update. We encourage those of you who do not already subscribe to the weekly Update, and its companion the monthly printed Cargo Facts newsletter, to click here for more information.
This split is hardly news – TNT has been focused on it for over a year now – but it is interesting to note that while shareholders almost unanimously approved the demerger, they rejected the recommendation to discharge the supervisory board (something that is virtually always rubber-stamped in cases like this).
The refusal to relieve the board of its liabilities is widely seen as an expression of dissatisfaction over the board’s perceived unwillingness to sell TNT’s Express operations to a competitor – thus enhancing value for shareholders. We say “perceived” because the Board has never acknowledged that it has received any expressions of interest, and no potential suitor (with FedEx and UPS being the obvious candidates) has ever publicly announced an intention to make an offer. With the vote, former CEO Peter Bakker retired and TNT Express will now be led by Marie-Christine Lombard, with Bernard Bot as CFO.
So, what next? Management says it’s full speed ahead for an independent TNT Express. But how long will it be independent? Will TNT’s European network be too tempting a target to ignore for FedEx or UPS? Or perhaps for a Chinese player looking to enter the worldwide express arena?