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Royal Mail’s GLS spin-off likely after CEO’s departure but not without problems, says Berenberg

The share price is factoring in a potential takeover bid but analysts say it is unlikely

Royal Mail PLC - Royal Mail’s GLS spin-off likely after CEO’s departure but not without problems, says Berenberg

Royal Mail PLC’s (LON:RMG) recent share price rally has factored in a potential takeover bid or sale of GLS, according to Berenberg.

The postal group has otherwise been battered during the pandemic, with revenues slumping by £22mln in April though monthly operating costs are £30mln higher.

READ: Back broken: Royal Mail boss returned to sender after bumpy ride

Advertising volumes are down 60%, while protective equipment and front-line staff bonuses come as extra charges of £40mln and £25mln respectively.

According to analysts, an outright bid is “probably unlikely” because any buyer would struggle to add value to the UK business, where the main issues are structural declines in letters and disagreements with workers’ unions.

The most realistic option seems to be offloading international parcel arm GLS now that boss Rico Back, a supporter of the business, has departed.

“However, we still think this will prove problematic, given that it is likely to be extremely unpopular with employee unions, remove the only source of free cash flow from the business, and may also fall foul of political or regulatory interference,” analysts pointed out.

“It is also possible that the company would need to retain up to 50% of any proceeds to help support the UK business, rather than returning them to shareholders.”

The investment bank retains a ‘sell’ recommendation with 100p target price, as “both routes would be fraught with difficulty and a positive solution for shareholders remains unlikely in the near to medium term”.

Shares were flat at 174.8p on Tuesday at noon.

Quick facts: Royal Mail PLC

Price: 178.65 GBX

LSE:RMG
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.79 billion
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