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Royal Mail Seeks Lucrative U.K. Virus Contract: Sunday Telegraph

(Bloomberg) --

Royal Mail Plc is aiming to lead a mass home-testing program that’s part of the U.K. government’s plans to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the Sunday Telegraph reported, without saying where it got the information.

The flagship British postal service is targeting a contract worth as much as 785 million pounds ($1 billion) that forms part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ambition to set up a mass “moonshot” testing program, the newspaper said. Royal Mail is expecting to compete with rivals including Inc. for the work, and the government hopes that mass testing will allow a greater degree of normalcy in people’s daily lives, according to the report.

Landing the contract would be a boost for Royal Mail, which has suffered a collapse in letter volumes during the outbreak, only partially offset by gains in parcel flows. The company -- previously owned by the government -- announced the surprise departure of its chief executive officer in May and said last month it wants to rebalance toward the growing parcels market. Royal Mail’s shares have fallen more than 25% since its initial public offering in 2013.

Helping mass testing “is an opportunity for Royal Mail to show what we can do after the rapid change of the postal market in 2020,” Chairman Keith Williams told the Sunday Telegraph.

A representative for Royal Mail didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg News outside normal business hours.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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