America Movil (AM), the regional mobile operator owned by the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu, has scored another victory in its quest to establish a bridgehead in Europe, acquiring roughly one quarter of Netherlands-based telecoms group KPN Telecom (or Royal KPN), despite resistance from the Dutch firm’s management. AM’s EUR8 (USD9.9) per share formal offer for a 27.7% stake in KPN ended yesterday, but Slim’s company has over the past few weeks purchased the majority of its 24.91% through the open market at a lower price. In a filing to the Mexican stock exchange, AM confirmed that it was offered a sizeable number of additional shares – equivalent to 40% of KPN’s stock – as its tender offer closed. Slim’s firm will now look to acquire the remaining 2.82% of shares it needs to complete its original tender target through a ‘scaled down procedure’. If AM’s shareholding reaches 30% though, it would trigger a mandatory offer for the remainder of KPN’s shares under Dutch telecoms laws. At this stage, Slim is tight-lipped on whether or not he would seek a larger stake.
The Mexican tycoon has outflanked KPN’s management in his quest to secure his sought-after stake in the telco. Earlier this month KPN 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 company. Talks between the Netherlands-based group and an unnamed interested party reportedly broke down, leaving KPN with precious few options when it came to fighting off AM’s advances. Since first receiving AM’s formal offer for 27.7% of the company, the KPN board had argued it severely undervalued the business and tried to convince investors not to sell their shares to Slim.