AM could abandon KPN takeover after foundation steps in with rival offer

30 Aug 2013

Reuters reports that an independent foundation committed to the protection of KPN shareholders’ interests has stepped in to block Carlos Slim’s planned EUR7.2 billion (USD9.52 billion) takeover of the Dutch telecoms group. Slim’s America Movil (AM) currently controls almost 30% of KPN’s stock and is looking to take a majority holding, but in a surprise move, the foundation – which was established to protect key national infrastructure when the former state monopoly was being privatised – says it has exercised an option to purchase certain shares that would increase its KPN voting stock to almost 50%. In a statement, the foundation said it had intervened ‘in order to safeguard the interests of KPN and its stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, trade unions and Dutch society more generally’. The little known foundation is arguing that these interests are being jeopardised by AM, which has failed to consult with it ahead of making its move for KPN. In response, AM released a statement late Thursday saying that whilst it remains committed to its takeover bid, it would withdraw it if a foundation maintains its current stance.

Separately, AM is also facing a second challenge after the council representing KPN employees urged the Dutch authorities to block the Mexican group’s takeover bid. In an open letter to the government, KPN’s Central Enterprise Council (or COR) said: ‘We call upon the cabinet and parliament to help prevent this takeover by using your influence and drafting protective legislation’. COR is concerned that the takeover will affect both the continuity of services and employment security if it is allowed to go ahead. Further, it is worried that local laws are not robust enough to prevent AM from installing new board members or ignoring previous agreements once it has secured a majority stake. It has reportedly published the details of a poll showing that the majority of Dutch citizens are against the takeover.

Netherlands, America Movil (AM), KPN