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CVC trumps TNT as Royal Mail bidder

CVC PARTNERS, the private equity group, has offered to pay around &pound;2bn for a 30 per cent stake in Royal Mail, it emerged yesterday, as the controversial bid to part privatise the franchise nudges ahead.<br /><br />The group&rsquo;s offer beats a bid from rival logistics group TNT, but is less than the government has hoped to reach.<br /><br />The plan to sell a minority stake in Royal Mail, which will have to pass through government later this month to be approved, has divided the cabinet.<br /><br />Over 100 Labour MPs contest that the move would breach a manifesto pledge. As over 140 members of parliament have signed a motion opposing the deal, Gordon Brown will need Conservative support to pull the measure through.<br /><br />Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has been pushing for the sale of up to 30 per cent of the group, keen to shake up Royal Mail&rsquo;s management and bring in fresh investment.<br /><br />CVC Partners, chaired by Michael Smith, has emerged as the front-runner because it is prepared to inject a substantial sum to modernise Royal Mail&rsquo;s technology, something the government has said is essential to safeguard the group&rsquo;s long-term future.<br /><br />TNT, the Dutch postal group, is being advised by Goldman Sachs in the bid battle.