UPDATE 1-TNT Express sells airlines operations ahead of UPS takeover

Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:58am EST

AMSTERDAM Nov 16 (Reuters) - Dutch delivery group TNT Express, which has agreed to be bought by U.S. rival United Parcel Service (UPS), has conditionally sold its airlines operations to ASL Aviation Group.

The flight operations' sale depends on the completion of the merger of UPS and TNT Express, the Dutch company said in a statement on Friday.

TNT Express and UPS had said in their takeover agreement that TNT's airlines would be sold to comply with European Union rules that forbid a non-EU entity from owning or controlling 50 percent or more of an EU airline operator.

The European Commission last month warned UPS, the world's no. 1 package delivery firm, about the combined company's high market share and said it would be seeking concessions before it approves the deal.

The airline's ownership transfer is not expected to impact activities at TNT Express's hub in Liege, Belgium, for at least a year following completion of the proposed UPS-TNT Express deal, TNT Express said.

ASL Aviation group is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, and is controlled by Belgian shipping company Compagnie Maritime Belge and minority shareholder 3P Air Freighters Ltd.

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