Austrian Post builds direct mail presence in Poland and Bulgaria

Austrian Post has continued expanding its direct mail reach in Eastern Europe with the acquisition of an unaddressed mail company in Poland, and a 26% stake in a hybrid mail specialist in Bulgaria. The Post has bought the Kolportaz Rzetelny business from Integer.pl Group, the Polish company that is currently pushing its parcel terminals business on the international stage.

And, it has bought a stake in M&BM Express that could pave the way to taking full control of the company from next year.

The Post said the strategic expansion was laying the “groundwork for the future”. The move comes as Poland opens its postal market to full competition in 2013, and Bulgaria’s market develops further from its liberalisation last year.

Walter Hitziger, the Austrian Post board member, said his company was pursuing a growth strategy in the Central and Eastern Europe region.

“The delivery of addressed and unaddressed direct mail items by our subsidiaries is one of our core business areas, and also provides a basis for expanding our involvement in these countries in connection with the liberalisation of their postal markets,” said Hitziger.

Austrian Post entered the Romanian postal market last year with the acquisition of an initial 26% stake in Bucharest-based direct mail specialist PostMaster S.r.l.

Poland

In Poland, Austrian Post signed a deal with one of the country’s largest private sector postal firms, Integer.pl Group, to take over its Kolportaz Rzetelny company.

Austrian Post said the firm had a revenue of about EUR 11.3m last year, delivering about 1.23bn items last year, up 6% on 2010’s volumes.

Tarnów-based Kolportaz Rzetelny claims a 36% share of the Polish unaddressed mail market, with clients including some of Poland’s largest retailers, such as Rossmann, Deichmann, Eurocash, Nomi, Obi, Leclerc, Lidl, Carrefour and Real.

The postal service of Austria said the acquisition was the first step into the Polish market for its unaddressed mail distribution business, which already has a strong presence in central and eastern Europe.

The transaction has been approved by Poland’s regulator, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK).

Commenting on the sale of its unaddressed mail business to Austrian Post, Integer.pl Group chief executive Rafal Brzoska said: “We are proud that through us such strong players as Austrian Post are entering the Polish market. I have no doubt that this is only the beginning of European interest in our postal sector.”

Bulgaria

In a separate deal, Austrian Post closed yesterday on a purchase of a 26% stake in Sofia-based M&BM Express, a company spun off from printing equipment firm M&BM in 2005.

The deal included the option for Austrian Post to take a further 25% stake in 2013, handing it a controlling interest, and a further stake in 2014 that would take its ownership to 76% in the company.

Austrian Post said M&BM Express was the “number one” alternative letter mail service provider in the Bulgarian market, which has been open to competition since 2011.

In particular, it said the firm was a market leader in the field of hybrid mail, where mail documents are sent by mailers electronically to be printed out in four printing centres in Bulgaria for final delivery in physical form.

M&BM Express has about 2,500 staff and delivered 75m mail items in 2011, of which 65m were hybrid mail items.

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