--UPS expects deal to close in fourth quarter
--Company says close will come quickly after EC probe completed
--TNT calls deal certainty "extremely high"
AMSTERDAM--United Parcel Service Inc.'s (UPS) planned acquisition of TNT Express NV (TNTEY, TNTE.AE) is on track to win approval from European regulators in the fourth quarter, executives of both companies contend.
In July, competition officials at the European Commission opened an in-depth probe into the planned 5.16 billion euro ($6.41 billion) acquisition of the Dutch package shipper by UPS. Regulators said they needed more time to review the merger amid potential competition concerns in the markets for small parcel delivery services--in particular international express services--in numerous European member states.
"We're absolutely convinced the deal with UPS will go ahead," TNT Express Supervisory Board Chairman Antony Burgmans said Monday, adding the antitrust review by the EC, the European Union's executive arm, was progressing according to expectations.
UPS executives said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires last week and in a regulatory filing Friday that they expect the deal, first announced in March, to close in the fourth quarter.
"That it would be complex in Brussels is what we, as well as UPS, had expected," Mr. Burgmans said Monday. But "we believe that we have put together a transaction with UPS for which the deal certainty is extremely high."
UPS initially said it expected to secure regulatory approval following a first-phase review by the EC, which would have enabled it to close in the third quarter. But the opening of the second-stage probe means regulatory clearance has pushed the potential closing into the fourth quarter.
The second-stage review isn't set to be completed until Dec. 12, after regulators extended a Nov. 28 deadline by 10 working days.
UPS spokesman Norman Black said last week the deal is on track to close quickly after the review is completed. He said the 10-day extension stemmed from a request for "administrative convenience" from regulators, rather than a need for extra scrutiny, and both UPS and TNT agreed to it.
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