EU antitrust regulators block 5.2 bln euro UPS, TNT deal

BRUSSELS Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:30am EST

BRUSSELS Jan 30 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators blocked a 5.2 billion euro ($7 billion) bid by United Parcel Service Inc for TNT Express as expected, saying the firm had not offered adequate concessions to ensure the deal would not hurt consumers.

The world's No. 1 package delivery company had flagged the negative decision on Jan. 14, saying it would withdraw its bid because of opposition from the EU competition regulator. The deal would have given it access to Dutch peer TNT's str onger networks in fast-growing Asian markets and Latin America.

The European Commission, the EU competition watchdog, said the proposed merger would have reduced competition in 15 EU countries.

"(The deal) would have drastically reduced choice between providers and probably led to price increases," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

"We worked hard with UPS on possible remedies until very late in the procedure, but what they offered was simply not enough to address the serious competition problems we identified."

UPS had offered to sell TNT's operations in 15 countries, mainly in eastern Europe, with the principal potential buyer France's DPD, but failed to convince the Commission of the merits of its proposal.

The decision is Almunia's third veto of a takeover deal in as many years. He blocked the $7.4 billion merger of NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse about a year ago and a plan to combine Greek airlines Aegean and Olympic Air two years ago.