FedEx 777F. Courtesy, FedEx

FedEx signed an agreement Thursday to acquire Polish courier company Opek, part of an attempt to at least partially counter the blockbuster United Parcel Service (UPS)-TNT Express merger (ATW Daily News, March 20).

UPS’s proposed $6.8 billion purchase of Amsterdam-based TNT is largely viewed as relegating FedEx to second-tier status in Europe, where FedEx’s presence is well below market leader DHL and soon to be significantly behind UPS/TNT, which likely will have the scale to compete head-to-head against DHL in Europe. But FedEx said buying Opek marked its “latest step in its strategy for growth in Europe.”

The Memphis-based express carrier said in a statement, “This acquisition will give [FedEx] access to a nationwide domestic ground network [in Poland] with an estimated $70 million in annual revenue and 12.5 million shipments annually.”

FedEx said the transaction will “most likely” close this summer. “In recent years, we have made significant investments throughout Europe, greatly expanding our network coverage and improving service to customers,” FedEx president and CEO Frederick Smith said. Opek, which employs about 1,200 workers, was founded in 1994.

FedEx did not disclose how much it will spend to buy the Polish company.