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Global Credit Research - 08 Jul 2010
Milan, July 08, 2010 -- European postal services companies face the challenge of maintaining market
share and profitability amidst the decline of traditional mail volume,
generally high fixed costs and heightened competition, says Moody's
Investors Service in a new Special Comment on the sector.
In the report, entitled "EMEA Postal Companies: Shifting
Competitive Landscape Adds To Challenges", Moody's notes
that traditional mail volumes are expected to decline at mid to high single
digit rates as Internet commerce and e-mail use expands.
Furthermore, ongoing market liberalisation is likely to result in
greater competition, forcing some companies to increase diversification
or rethink their service offering. Indeed, some companies
may reconsider their commitment to remaining in the segment altogether.
"Companies are taking steps to broaden their revenue sources through
innovative products and e-commerce joint ventures. Such
measures present good cross-selling opportunities but the top-line
benefits are likely to be limited," says Paolo Leschiutta,
a Moody's Vice President-Senior Analyst and author of the
report. "Successful players will continue to reduce operating
costs by developing more efficient distribution centres and renegotiating
the level of services provided."
The rating agency believes that tariff increases are unlikely given that
greater competition, especially in profitable urban centres,
will put further pressure on margins as volumes shrink. Furthermore,
it is not yet clear how the Universal Service Obligation and starting
tariffs will be defined and remunerated by each country in the wake of
"The deadline for opening most remaining EU postal markets is January
2011 but the benefits will hinge on how uniformly the rules are applied
and enforced by regulators. So far, the impact of fully liberalised
markets has yet to be fully realised due to VAT rules, customs laws
and labour agreements," explains Mr. Leschiutta.
"Although EU officials are committed to continuing market reforms
to ensure universal, affordable postal service, they also
acknowledge the challenges of enforcing the latest directive to lower
the barriers to entry for new market players."
These changes will take place as many European governments look to cut
deficits amidst a backdrop of slow, unsteady economic recovery and
still-high unemployment. "Cash-stretched governments
may seek to extract value from national postal companies, or trim
ongoing support as they seek ways to cut budget deficits,"
cautions Mr. Leschuitta.
Furthermore, express and logistics operations, some of which
were hit severely in the global economic downturn, are likely to
contribute a greater proportion of profits for some companies.
However, those segments also bring more business risk due to their
Most European postal operators will remain challenged to maintain or improve
profitability going forward, although we would expect incumbent
operators to maintain their market leadership position in the domestic
markets. Moody's would also expect key credit metrics for
the larger players to improve over time following the adoption of more
conservative financial policies and the implementation of cost-saving
measures. However, if key credit metrics do not improve on
a sustainable basis this may result in negative pressure on ratings of
those issuers with an increasing business risk profile.
* * * * *
NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information please contact EMEA
Press Information in London +44-20-7772-5456;
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web site at www.moodys.com
Paloma San Valentin
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
Moody's: EMEA Postal Companies Challenged By Declining Volume And Heightened Competition
No Related Data.
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