Postal Privatization: Italy

October 23, 2015

After Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain, it is now Italy’s turn to privatize its postal service. It seems that even “old Europe” welfare states are more reform-minded on some economic matters than Congress and the current U.S. administration.

The Financial Times reports:

Italy will this week launch its biggest privatisation in more than a decade with the partial sale of Poste Italiane — an initial public offering on which the government of prime minister Matteo Renzi has staked its reformist reputation.

The government is planning to sell up to a 40 percent stake in Poste Italiane, Italy’s national post office, and raise a maximum of €3.9bn in proceeds. The IPO is due to have a price range of €6 to €7.5 a share, giving the company an equity value of up to €9.8bn.

Poste Italiane is a 153-year old behemoth, and generates €28.5bn in annual group revenue, holds €420bn in postal savings deposits, and has 32m customers.

Why is the government selling Poste Italiane? “Because of the decline in its letter business caused by email, and the rise of e-commerce,” notes the FT. That is one of the same concerns that prompted the 2013 sell-off of Britain’s Royal Mail, and it is also central to the downward spiral of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). If Italy can sell its 153-year old behemoth, and Britain can sell its 500-year old behemoth, then America can sell its dinosaur, USPS.

On the Italian sale, Reuters notes, “A successful listing of Poste Italiane will then open the way for the sale of air traffic control operator Enav in the first half of 2016, while the listing of the national railway company is scheduled for the second half of next year.”

Americans look to Italy for the best in fashion. Our government-run postal services, air traffic control, and national railway company are looking very drab and old-fashioned. It is time for an Italian-style privatization makeover.    

For more on postal privatization, see herehere, and here.


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