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FedEx's Smith: To Expand In Europe 'Primarily Through Organic Growth'

By Bob Sechler Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES FedEx Corp. (FDX) Chief Executive and founder Fred Smith declined to comment Thursday on rival United Parcel Service Inc.'s (UPS) plan to buy Dutch company TNT Express (TNTE.AE), although he reiterated his view that FedEx has no strategic need for a big acquisition in Europe. FedEx's express division "has a profitable, multi-billion-dollar business in Europe, and it is growing stronger," Smith said on a post-earnings conference call with analysts. He added that he's confident in FedEx plans "to continue expansion [in Europe] primarily through organic growth." On Monday, UPS announced it has agreed to buy smaller rival TNT Express in an all-cash deal valuing the Dutch package shipper at $6.80 billion. If the deal goes through, UPS would have 35% of the market for next-day parcel delivery in Europe, according to research firm Transport Intelligence, second behind Deutsche Post AG (DPW.XE) unit DHL's 39%. FedEx has 12% of the market, according to Transport Intelligence. FedEx has grown in Europe primarily through small deals, such as its 2007 purchase of Hungarian logistics company Flying-Cargo Hungary Kft. for undisclosed terms, and its late 2006 purchase of British transport company ANC Holdings Ltd. for $234 million. FedEx also has invested organically in Europe, expanding its air hubs in Paris and Cologne, Germany, in recent years. Meanwhile, FedEx said Thursday that its view of the economy, both in the U.S. and globally, has tempered a bit. The company forecast growth in U.S. gross domestic product at 2.1% for 2012, compared to a previous forecast of 2.2%. It forecast global GDP growth of 2.3%, from a previous view of 2.9%. -By Bob Sechler; Dow Jones Newswires; 512-258-1690; bob.sechler@dowjones.com

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