Deutsche Post Should Lose Bid to Block Belgian Post Aid, EU Court Advised

Deutsche Post AG should lose its bid to block 297.5 million euros ($391 million) in state aid to Belgium’s La Poste SA, an adviser to the European Union’s top court said.

A ruling in favor of Deutsche Post last year “should be canceled” and the challenge “be declared inadmissible,” Advocate General Niilo Jaeaeskinen of the EU’s Court of Justice said in a non-binding opinion today. The Luxembourg-based court follows such advice in a majority of cases.

Belgium appealed after Deutsche Post, the world’s biggest transporter of air and sea freight by volume, won a lower-court ruling to annul EU backing for the aid. The February 2009 ruling triggered an in-depth review by the European Commission, the 27 nation EU’s antitrust regulator, into all state aid received by Belgium’s state-controlled postal service.

The case is one of the hurdles La Poste has to clear before it can proceed with a planned initial public offering. CVC Capital Partners Ltd., which owns almost 50 percent of La Poste, in June hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Nomura Holdings Inc. to advise on a possible stock sale.

Deutsche Post sued the commission in November 2003 after the regulator approved the capital injection by the Belgian government. A ruling by the court usually follows within six months after an opinion.

Deutsche Post must study the reasoning of the advocate general before it can comment, Uwe Bensien, a spokesman for the company, said by telephone.

The case is C-148/09 P, Belgium v Deutsche Post and Others.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Brussels via sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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