LONDON: The four discrete businesses that comprise the UK's Royal Mail (Letters, the Post Office, Parcelforce Worldwide and the European parcels business GLS) were all profitable in the nine months ended December 31 last year – the first time this has been achieved in nearly twenty years.

The quartet contributed to an operating profit of £225 million ($309.48m; €239.72m) during this period, compared with a surplus of £162m for the whole of the previous financial year.

Despite which the UK government remains determined to part-privatise the state owned entity – presumably to propitiate the gods of The Market whose fallibility has been all too plainly demonstrated over the past fifteen months.

According to Richard Hooper, a serial company director and former deputy chairman of Ofcom, who conducted an enquiry into the postal service at the government's behest, the Royal Mail in its present form is "untenable".

Letting the moneymen in, Hooper obligingly concluded, would generate the "confidence, experience and capital" needed to carry out vital changes, without which the Royal Mail's universal service – the delivery of mail to the whole of the mainland UK and its outlying islands at a single postal rate – would be under threat.

Data sourced from BBC Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff