US delivery giant United Parcel Service (UPS) is to launch its 5.16 billion euro ($6.77 billion) takeover bid of Dutch firm TNT Express on Friday, the two companies said in a statement. \"The offer period commences on 22 June 2012 at 9:00 hours Amsterdam time (3:00 am New York time, 0700 GMT) and ends on 31 August 2012 at 18:00 Amsterdam time (noon New York time, 1600 GMT) unless extended,\" said the statement. UPS announced in March that it would buy the Dutch firm in a deal that is expected to put UPS ahead of rivals DHL and FedEx as it would strengthen its position in Europe and globally. The boards of the two companies, one headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the other in Hoofddorp, on the outskirts of Amsterdam, said at the time that they intend to support and recommend the offer. TNT Express is a global player operating in more than 200 countries and maintains a leading role in the road freight network in Europe. UPS is the world\'s biggest package-shipping group, with annual revenues last year of $53.1 billion and 400,000 employees. Analysts have said the acquisition marks a breakthrough for the US-based UPS in the European and global market and is part of UPS\'s strategy to focus on road transport as rising fuel costs and cut-backs made flying more expensive.