Business / Industries

Rise of e-services at core of Italian postal service

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-10-16 08:17

Digital services are at the core of transformation of Poste Italiane, Italy's national postal service, which has launched a partial privatization, company CEO and general manager Francesco Caio told Xinhua in an interview recently.

"In the past months, we have worked for the settlement and fulfillment of a plan which starts from the changed needs of citizens," Caio explained.

"There are less correspondence, more e-commerce, more parcels, more need for digital payments, and more need for asset management," he said.

The CEO underlined that investments in innovation, quality and digital platforms will allow a significant improvement in the quality of Poste Italiane's customer experience.

Appointed by the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi last year at the helm of the 150-year-old company, Caio, 58, is an electronic engineer and a telecoms industry veteran who also headed a government "digital agenda" task force.

The plan that the Poste Italiane management was bringing to the Milan stock exchange, Caio said, "reflects the new needs and reconfirms the role of Poste Italiane about three important sectors-those of correspondence and logistics, payments and financial transactions, and savings."

The initial public offering launched on Monday related to up to 453 million ordinary shares, representing 34.7 percent of Poste Italiane's share capital. In case of full exercise of the green shoe option, the shares offered for sale may reach 38.2 percent of the company's share capital.

Not only was the IPO Italy's largest privatization in more than a decade, it was also a landmark event because it was the biggest IPO in Europe of the year, Caio said.

He said the partial sale by a sole shareholder, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, will be carried out with a public offering to retail investors in Italy and employees of the company and its subsidiaries, and an international offering to institutional investors in Italy and abroad.

"We have and are continuing to have, through the banks, an interaction with a very large range of investors, including Asian investors," Caio told Xinhua.

In his view, Poste Italiane presented with the listing a "solid balance, an interesting profitability and with a capacity to generate profits."

"For this reason, our board has decided to distribute at least 80 percent of its operating 2015-2016 profits as dividends," he highlighted.

In the first half of 2015, total revenues of Poste Italiane, including insurance premiums, grew to 16 billion euros (about $18 billion), up 7 percent on the previous year. Net profit reached 435 million euros, almost doubling compared to the 222 million euros in the previous year.

Overall, the recent results reflected good performances from the insurance and financial services segments, and a decline in demand for traditional forms of communication, driven by the rise of e-substitution, where electronic forms of communication replace paper forms.

"The sale is part of the government's privatization plan for 2015 to re-launch privatizations also as an instrument of reform to accelerate the process of transformation and growth undertaken by Italy," Caio went on saying.

He hoped operation would reinforce the image of "a country able to carry out projects of innovation and growth and ready to welcome institutional investors from all over the world" in a transparent and efficient way.

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