News vom 18.11.2009
New Postal Market Act Establishes the Essential, Clearly-Defined Legal FrameworkLaw ensures ongoing basic postal services to the Austrian population .
Today’s decision on the part of the Austrian Parliament to pass a new law regulating the Austrian postal market lays the groundwork for the future of Austrian Post, enabling the company to strategically plan for the years ahead. The new Austrian Postal Act will lead to considerable competitive challanges for Austrian Post, but there are also positive aspects to the new legislation.
“On balance, the new law contains regulations allowing for a certain level of flexibility, for example in pricing for large customers or modernising the branch network. But it also involves burdens which will continue to be imposed on us, for example financing the costs for the universal service obligation. In the light of the upcoming market liberalization, it should be possible for us to more effectively position Austrian Post in a manner assuring it of a good future. In addition to increasing revenue, other measures in respect to streamlining costs and staff will be required”, says Austrian Post CEO Georg Pölzl.
Minimum standards are now prescribed on the basis of regulations forbidding wage dumping. Licensed postal operators are obliged to comply with the relevant collective wage agreements. One disadvantage is the fact that Austrian Post will have to bear the burden of financing the installation of new cluster box units, requiring the company to invest about EUR 40m over the next few years. It is true that competitive providers will have to subsequently contribute a part of the costs in the regions where they operate, corresponding to their respective market share. However, Austrian Post will be responsible for the financing in advance the entire conversion of the cluster box units, and has also been saddled with the lion’s share of the costs.
Furthermore, Austrian Post will have to pay most of the costs for providing universal postal services, i.e. delivering letter mail and parcels (up to ten kg) as well as newspapers and magazines every working day to every door in Austria. A fund solution is stipulated by the new law, prescribing a sharing of the costs for universal postal services on a pro-rata basis corresponding to the market share held by the licensed postal operators. However, as the largest provider of postal services, Austrian Post itself will have to assume the burden of supplying most of the funding.
The new Postal Market Act also defines the precise number and location of postal service points in Austria for the first time. In the future, the branch network will consist of 1,650 postal service points, and thus be denser than in the past. 90% of the population in urban areas must have access to postal services within a radius of 2 kilometres. A radius of 10 kilometres applies to rural areas. If Austrian Post itself cannot profitably operate its own post office, the possibility still exists for the company to subcontract a postal partner to provide the required services. However, the shutdown of a company-operated branch must be formally authorised beforehand within the context of a complicated approval process.
“For us, the new Postal Market Act just manages to be an acceptable compromise. It will require us to continue achieving improvements at all interfaces within the company, both in terms of increasing revenues as well as cutting costs. We must, want to and will continue to provide the same high quality universal postal services as in the past, in the spirit of ensuring that the entire Austrian population has access to basic postal services. And now the new Postal Act creates a clearly-defined legal framework which was so essential for us”, CEO Georg Pölzl concludes.
Contacts at Austrian Post:
Ms. Manuela Bruck
Head of Group Communications
Tel.: +43 577 67 – 21897
Mr. Michael Homola
Tel.: +43 577 67 – 32010
Mr. Harald Hagenauer
Head of Investor Relations
Tel. +43 (0) 577 67–30400