America Movil (AM), the Mexican telecommunications group controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, announced yesterday that it has upped its stake in KPN Telecom (or Royal KPN) and now owns 20.9% of the Dutch company. The move marks the latest in a series of share purchases that have occurred since AM launched a formal offer for 27.7% of KPN last month. The management of the Netherlands-based operation is vehemently opposed to the Mexican group’s bid, considering it undervalues the company. However, AM is circling the Dutch PTO ever more closely whilst simultaneously acquiring minority stakes in other European telcos as it looks to create a foothold on the continent. Last week, AM agreed terms to buy a 21% stake in the Telekom Austria Group from Viennese businessman Ronny Pecik and his Egyptian partner, Naguib Sawiris, with plans to increase this to about 23%.
In response to AM’s latest move, KPN says it has put its Belgian business BASE up for sale and reiterated its recommendation that KPN shareholders not accept the takeover bid by Slim’s firm. ‘The KPN boards maintain the view that the partial offer by America Movil significantly undervalues the company and does not offer an appropriate premium on all outstanding ordinary shares for gaining significant influence,’ the incumbent said. AM’s unsolicited offer closes on 27 June.
The Dutch carrier intends to commence the sale of BASE in July and hopes to use the proceeds to shore up its overall ‘credit profile and financial flexibility’. The official announcement to offload its Belgian operations comes days after talks on the sale of KPN’s German asset, E-Plus Mobilfunk, collapsed.