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Royal Mail group faces ‘no further action’ over potential security probe

Royal Mail’s parent firm has said it faces no further action months after ministers said they would launch a national security probe into the company.

International Distributions Services (IDS), which was renamed from Royal Mail Group earlier this year, had faced the potential intervention after the firm’s largest shareholder, Vesa, increased its stake to just over 22%.

Vesa is controlled by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, who also owns stakes in West Ham United football club and Sainsbury’s.

In August, the business secretary at the time, Kwasi Kwarteng, had contacted the company to say he suspected arrangements were in progress, or being contemplated, which would increase Vesa’s stake to more than 25%.

Mr Kwarteng had said he was “exercising his call-in power under Section 1 of the NSI (National Security and Investment) Act”.

The recent legislation gives the Government powers to investigate deals that “will result in an acquisition that may give rise to a risk to national security”.

In July, the business secretary used powers from the Act to block a foreign sale for the first time, stopping Beijing Infinite Vision Technology (BIVT) from buying vision-sensing technology from the University of Manchester due to security concerns.

However, on Monday, IDS confirmed that Vesa’s stake in the company will not face security intervention.

“The company has now been notified by the Secretary of State that no further action is to be taken under the NSI Act in relation to the potential increase by Vesa of its shareholding in the company to more than 25%,” it said.

It comes amid a challenging period for Royal Mail, which revealed plans to consult on up to 6,000 redundancies earlier this month, blaming the impact of strike action by its workers.

On Sunday, the latest planned strikes by Royal Mail workers in the next two weeks were called off following a challenge by the company.