(Alliance News) - The owner of Royal Mail has failed to publish its annual trading update, scheduled for early Thursday morning, as the group heads towards a potential overseas takeover.

International Distributions Services PLC told markets it would publish its full-year financial results at 0700 BST on Thursday, but by 1130 BST nothing had been released.

It comes a week after the company said it was "minded" to agree to a takeover by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky.

Kretinsky, whose EP Corporate Group AS owns a 27.5% stake in the firm, put forward a proposed bid worth about GBP3.5 billion on May 15. Shares in IDS were trading 1.1% down at 324.00 pence each on late Thursday morning in London, giving it a market capitalisation of around GBP3.10 billion.

There have been no further announcements on the deal in the last week, but Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch said the Royal Mail's universal service obligation will need to be protected in any sale of the firm.

IDS said Kretinsky had agreed to offer a set of "contractual undertakings" to protect key public interest factors recognising Royal Mail's status as a major part of national infrastructure under the proposal.

This would include commitments to Royal Mail's plans to keep six-day-a-week first class letter deliveries under the universal service, protect workers' rights and keep the Royal Mail brand, as well as its UK headquarters and tax residence.

Kretinsky has until next week Wednesday to make a firm offer after the City Takeover Panel agreed to extend the so-called "put up or shut up" deadline, which was originally set for May 15.

Royal Mail, which was privatised in 2013, put forward plans to Ofcom earlier this month to scrap second-class letter deliveries on Saturdays and cut the service to every other weekday as part of overhaul efforts.

In its submission to Ofcom's consultation on the future of the universal postal service, Royal Mail said it would keep a six-day-a-week service for first-class mail in a climbdown on previous calls for all Saturday letter deliveries to be scrapped.

IDS has been approached for comment.

By Alex Daniel, PA Business Reporter

Press Association: Finance

source: PA

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