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Portugal May Follow U.K. in Selling Postal Operator Through IPO

Portugal may emulate the U.K. and sell a majority stake in its state-owned postal operator on the stock market this year in a bid to raise money and meet the terms of its bailout program.

“That is the model that is currently on the table,” Sergio Monteiro, secretary of state for public works, transport and communications, told reporters in Lisbon today. The plan is to sell a “majority” stake in CTT-Correios de Portugal this year, he said.

CTT-Correios de Portugal’s privatization would be the country’s first since the government sold airport operator ANA-Aeroportos de Portugal SA and stakes in utility company EDP-Energias de Portugal SA and energy-grid operator REN-Redes Energeticas Nacionais through a direct sale. Portugal’s 78 billion-euro ($105 billion) bailout package agreed upon with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in 2011 requires it to sell assets to raise revenue.

A final decision on a possible initial public offering of CTT is likely to be announced by the end of the month, Monteiro said. He declined to say how much CTT is worth.

Monteiro’s comments on the disposal of the 493-year-old postal operator, whose logo still appears on mailboxes and buildings in some of Portugal’s former colonies in Africa, Asia and South America, took place a day after the U.K. closed the sale of the Royal Mail Group Ltd. through an IPO that was fully subscribed within hours.

An IPO “seems to be the model that potentially generates more value in a sale,” Monteiro said. “Several types of investors have approached us to say they are interested in a direct sale or a sale through the stock market.”

CTT, which is expanding its express package delivery service to new markets as web-based purchasing rises, requested a banking license from the Bank of Portugal on Aug. 5 so a future buyer can also operate the company as a bank, according to the company’s website. The postal operator’s first-half net income fell 14 percent to 31.6 million euros from the same period a year earlier, according to its website.

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