Royal Mail’s Controversial Takeover by Czech Billionaire Daniel Křetínský

Royal Mail
The Royal Mail, a cornerstone of British postal services for over 500 years, is undergoing a significant ownership change as Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský’s EP Group takes over. This move, valued at £3.57 billion, has sparked widespread debate and concern among stakeholders, including employees, unions, and government officials.

Royal Mail Background of the Deal

Daniel Křetínský, often referred to as the “Czech Sphinx,” has been increasing his stake in Royal Mail’s parent company, International Distribution Services (IDS), over recent years. His latest offer, which values IDS shares at 370p each, has been accepted by the IDS board, paving the way for a complete takeover​ (ITVX)​​ (KRDO).

Commitments and Concerns

Křetínský has made several commitments to address concerns about the future of Royal Mail. These include upholding the universal service obligation, which mandates six-day-a-week letter deliveries across the UK at a uniform rate, maintaining employee benefits and pensions, and keeping Royal Mail’s headquarters and tax base in the UK​ (ITVX)​​ (KRDO).

Despite these assurances, there is significant anxiety about the implications of foreign ownership of such a vital national infrastructure. The Communication Workers Union (CWU), representing around 110,000 Royal Mail employees, has voiced strong opposition. Dave Ward, CWU’s General Secretary, has described the takeover as a result of a failed privatization strategy and mismanagement​ (ITVX)​​ (KRDO).

Financial Context and Strategic Implications

Royal Mail has faced substantial financial challenges in recent years. Privatized in 2013, the company has struggled with declining demand and increased competition in the postal and logistics market. For the year ending March 31, Royal Mail reported a loss of £348 million, slightly better than the previous year’s loss of £419 million​ (KRDO).

Křetínský believes that with proper modernization, IDS can become one of the largest postal logistics groups in Europe. However, this vision involves navigating a rapidly evolving market and potentially significant restructuring efforts to enhance efficiency and competitiveness​ (ITVX).

Political and Public Scrutiny

The takeover has not only economic but also political dimensions. Given the Royal Mail’s historical and societal significance, the acquisition has attracted scrutiny from various quarters. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has expressed concerns, suggesting that lessons from the ownership issues of other critical infrastructure, like Thames Water, should be considered in this context​ (ITVX).

The government’s position is further complicated by national security considerations. Křetínský’s investment in IDS had previously been scrutinized by the UK government, but no intervention followed after a review in 2022​ (ITVX)​.

Future Prospects

The immediate future of Royal Mail under Křetínský’s ownership will likely involve a delicate balancing act between modernization and maintaining service commitments. The proposed takeover has been described as a crucial moment for the postal service, with potential long-term impacts on its operations and structure.

Křetínský has until May 29 to finalize the firm offer. As the situation evolves, all eyes will be on how these commitments are upheld and what strategic changes EP Group might implement to turn around the fortunes of Royal Mail​ (ITVX)​​ (KRDO).


The acquisition of Royal Mail by Daniel Křetínský’s EP Group marks a significant chapter in the history of one of Britain’s oldest institutions. While the deal promises modernization and financial stability, it also brings considerable uncertainty and concern among employees, unions, and the public. The coming months will be crucial in determining whether this transition can preserve the legacy and operational integrity of Royal Mail while adapting to the demands of a modern postal service.

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