Dutch telecoms operator KPN (or Royal KPN) has failed in its bid to find a buyer for its German unit E-Plus Mobilfunk – a move designed to stave off a hostile approach by Carlos Slim’s America Movil (AM) – just days before the Mexican’s tender offer for KPN shares closes. Talks between the Netherlands-based group and an unnamed interested party reportedly broke down on Wednesday, leaving KPN with precious few options when it comes to fighting off AM’s advances. The Dutch carrier is due to respond to Slim’s formal tender offer on Thursday, ahead of its closing date of 27 June. However, it has already dismissed the EUR8 (USD10.15) per share price tendered as too low.
Commenting on the failure of talks over E-Plus, KPN said: ‘The current adverse conditions in financial markets have meant that no agreement could be reached at this point in time, and talks have been terminated.’ It went on to say that it believes other parties recognise the ‘significant value’ of the German mobile market, which is likely to see consolidation in the near future. Telefonica of Spain had been touted as a possible white knight bidder, despite its own debt issues, but a source told Reuters that the Madrid-based operation has no intention to get involved at this time. Industry watchers have speculated that Telefonica might merge its O2 Germany operation with E-Plus, following which it might launch a partial listing of the enlarged entity.