Just in time to cope with the opening of mail services to competition, the government is replacing the Postal Authority. The new Israel Postal Company will begin operating at the end of January and be run as a profitmaking entity under the Government Companies Authority just as does Israel Electric Corp. It would no longer be allowed to bear deficits or have to pay royalties to the Treasury (which were NIS 100 million a year). The Authority had been run by the Communications Ministry since it was established in 1987. The new company would have greater freedom in its services and in hiring and wage policies as it would not be restricted. Yet, it would continue to provide postal services to the entire population - even in outlying areas where services are less profitable or not profitable at all. The formal signing ceremony was held Wednesday night in the Jerusalem office of Finance Minister Ehud Olmert and was attended by Postal Authority chairman Ya'acov Edri, authority director-general Avi Hochman, Histadrut Trade Union head Ofer Eini, and other officials. The state will grant the company NIS 275m. plus another NIS 150m. to participate in the costs of pensions for ministry staffers who were shifted to the Postal Authority in 1987 and costs of early pensions. The Postal Company will cut its ranks by 9%, or 450 jobs, over the next three years. All staffers who move to the new company will receive a one-time monetary bonus and higher salary grades. Edri said the agreement allows the company to compete with private companies in the business of mail and package dispatching and also resolves tax problems and introduces new services in postal branches. Appointed only three months ago, Hochman was deeply involved in resolving the remaining roadblocks to the launch. The government had decided to establish the company in September 2003, but various technical issues and objections by the works committee prevented implementation. A new logo will replace the antelope that has represented the Postal Authority.