U.S. and Canadian activist investors acquired more than five percent of TNT, reigniting speculation of a break-up or takeover of Europe's second largest parcel delivery and mail group.
Jana Partners, a New York-based hedge fund, and Alberta Investment Management Company, a Canadian asset manager, purchased a combined 5.39 percent stake in Amsterdam-based TNT, according to a filing Dec. 8 by the Dutch Stock Exchange regulator.
The stake, worth around $580 million, is reported to have been built up since last Thursday when TNT unveiled a five year strategy to focus on express parcels and freight transport to offset shrinking mail volume.
TNT shares rose over 6 percent in early trading to a 14-month high as investors bought into the company which has long been seen as a takeover candidate.
Activist investors believe TNT's value will be enhanced by separating its express and mail units which would ease the acquisition of an independent express business.
FedEx and UPS have consistently been seen as potential bidders for TNT, which is Europe's biggest parcel delivery company, but have been reluctant to take on its mail unit which is facing falling volume and revenue. FedEx and UPS are estimated to have European express market shares of just 9 percent and 2 percent respectively.
Potential bidders are also attracted by TNT's strong position in express delivery across Asia, including China, and in Latin America. TNT's main European rival is Germany's Deutsche Post DHL.
TNT sold its underperforming TNT Logistics unit to Los Angeles-based Apollo Management for $2.2 billion in 2006. The company was re-branded CEVA Logistics.
TNT's strategy, dubbed Vision 2015, calls for an increased focus on Europe's $30 billion-a-year parcels market and the day definite freight sector. It said it might also sell its foreign mail operations which are facing increased competition.
Jana, which is headed by former Merrill Lynch banker Barry Rosenstein, manages more than $2.5 billion, and AIMCo manages around $66 billion in government accounts and pensions in Alberta.
Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.