Government emphasised RM's importance to society

CWU sets out stall over £3.5bn foreign bid for Royal Mail

Royal Mail makes a massive direct and indirect contribution to the UK economy

Union the CWU plans to “use its political influence” in the debate over the possible foreign takeover of Royal Mail, while the current business secretary has asserted that the government would need to consider and agree the details of a sale.

Addressing members in a YouTube broadcast following news of EP Corporate Group’s enhanced £3.5bn offer for Royal Mail parent International Distributions Services, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said it was “a huge moment”: “I think this is an unprecedented moment, where a company as big as Royal Mail, that has a national infrastructure that is crucial to the UK, is under a takeover bid from an equity investor from abroad.

“We’ve got many concerns about what their intentions are, but also about what Royal Mail Group have been doing,” he stated.

In the briefing Ward spoke about the need to engage positively with all the parties involved and has called for an entirely new ownership model for Royal Mail.

However, the Financial Times has since reported that Ward told the newspaper that the union would ballot its members and potentially take industrial action “if certain things are attacked”.

In the online briefing, he stated: “This political debate is going to be really, really interesting to see it unfold. There’s a lot to talk about here with the politicians, with Vesa, and with the company and we’re going to be right at the centre of that.”

Vesa is the largest shareholder in IDS and is affiliated to EP Corporate Group.

Czech billionaire Daniel ‘The Sphinx’ Křetínský is behind both Vesa and EP. Ward said Křetínský’s people had reached out to the union, and the CWU would engage with the prospective owner.

Ward said it was “no foregone conclusion” that the EP bid would overcome the hurdle of government approval.

“It could be a long intervention,” he added.

The union has also poured scorn on the Daily Mail's coverage of events. 

Business secretary Kemi Badenoch met with IDS CEO Martin Seidenberg and chairman Keith Williams in a meeting that had been arranged before Wednesday’s revised offer for the group.

Her department said that Badenoch welcomed the headline details of the contractual undertakings agreed with EP Corporate Group, particularly that Royal Mail will remain UK headquartered and the commitment to providing the Universal Service Obligation, but the details of these “would ultimately be for Government to consider and agree”.

She also emphasised the importance of the Royal Mail in British society and the government’s priority is to maintain that position.

In a subsequent TV interview about the situation, Ward also stated: “It’s time for the UK to have a serious discussion about a new model of ownership, and I think the government, the Labour Party and the public should be part of that.”

“How do you protect and grow a business in the future that is so critical to the UK’s economy and is still a major contributor to the UK economy?”

In its most recent report and accounts IDS stated that the group was the seventh largest UK company contributor to the country's economy, with Royal Mail accounting for £11.8bn of combined direct and indirect gross value added and employing one in every 175 people.

Ward also claimed that Royal Mail was “not telling the truth” about the well-documented quality of service issues that have plagued the business.  

Back in August 2002 the then-business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng notified Royal Mail that it would constitute a trigger event under the National Security & Investment Act if Vesa increased its stake to more than 25% and that he would exercise his call-in power.

However, by October IDS said that Vesa’s stake in the company would not be subject to security intervention.