PostNL is allowed to take over competitor Sandd.

Without the takeover, the viability and affordability of postal delivery in the Netherlands will be jeopardized, says outgoing State Secretary Mona Keijzer of Economic Affairs.

It is retroactively granting a license for the acquisition.

PostNL and Sandd have been one company for more than a year.

According to the companies and the cabinet, the merger was necessary in order to be able to continue basic mail provision in the Netherlands in a shrinking market.

Keijzer gave permission for the acquisition, despite objections from competition authority ACM, which warned that hardly any competition would remain on the postal market.

However, the administrative judge in Rotterdam declared the permit granted in June last year invalid, because it was insufficiently substantiated.

That happened in a lawsuit brought by two competing postal companies.

Keijzer then had to come up with a new, better-motivated assessment.

Extra research commissioned by the State Secretary has revealed that PostNL earned too little from mail delivery before the merger to be able to continue to guarantee five-day delivery in the long term.

It also appears, according to Keijzer, that prior to the takeover, Sandd was "on the brink of bankruptcy".

"My job is to ensure that postal delivery remains affordable, available and reliable in a market that is shrinking 6 to 10 percent annually," says Keijzer.

She points out that there was only competition in the business market, which really helped customers.

In the meantime, the stamp price for consumers only increased and the terms of employment of deliverers and sorters were increasingly stripped down.

Keijzer does impose additional conditions on the merger.

PostNL is already obliged to give regional competitors access to its national network, and the company will now have less room to increase the rates it charges for this.

Earlier, a maximum was already set for the profit that PostNL is allowed to make on postal delivery.