Our business success depends critically on the financial health of our customers. The uncertain economic outlook in the wake of the financial crisis poses considerable potential risks for us and for the entire logistics sector. Many factors are at play here, including whether individual countries put together economic stimulus packages and what effect these produce. It is therefore hard to say anything about the duration and scope of the crisis.
The financial impact of any drop in revenue is minimised by our extensive cost-cutting programme. Starting in 2009, the Group aims to lower indirect costs substantially – by €1 billion by 2010. We also plan to increase our share of important domestic and international express and logistics markets. The restructuring of our US express business considerably reduces our cyclical risk in this hard-hit market.
Risks associated with the general business environment primarily arise from the fact that the Group and its subsidiaries provide some of their services in a regulated market. Our statutory exclusive licence was abolished in Germany on 1 January 2008. However, the Postgesetz (German postal act) has allowed exceptions enabling competitors to operate within the weight and price ceilings laid down in our exclusive licence from January 1998 onwards. As a result, around 55% of the revenue generated by competitors in 2007, the last year of the exclusive licence, was within the weight ceilings stipulated in the exclusive licence. By the end of the year, the regulatory authority (Bundesnetzagentur – Federal Network Agency) had issued licences to around 2,500 competitors.