Efficient Euro Post Offices? Here They Come

Europe's post offices are remaking themselves into competitive machines

Italy's post office is a national disgrace. Overseas letters often are delivered months late, forcing companies to dispatch couriers across the border to send mail from Switzerland. State-owned Poste Italiane also generates gigantic losses; $441 million in 1997 alone. But the nightmare could end soon. Corrado Passera, 44, a former Olivetti chief executive, took over the Poste in March and last month announced a program of layoffs, automation, and new electronic services. "We will reorganize like any private-sector service company," Passera promises. By 2001, he says, the Poste should break even and be "ready for privatization."

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