Mexican phone company América Móvil SAB de CV now has an interference-free line to Europe after its €8 per-share offer for a minority stake in Dutch Royal KPN NV succeeded late Wednesday, June 27.
América Móvil SAB de CV said it would buy just 40 million of the 562.5 million shares tendered into the offer to reach its goal of a 27.7% stake, worth €2.91 billion ($3.67 billion), after amassing 24.9% of KPN on the market at more favorable terms.
The Mexican company, owned by billionaire Carlos Slim, this spring made an aggressive push into Europe where he hopes low valuations will gain him partners at a bargain. América Móvil hopes the move will allow it to create more lucrative roaming contracts, reduce purchasing costs and help win international customers. In addition to the KPN deal, Slim also recently announced an agreement that will give his company 23% of Vienna's Telekom Austria AG.
Although KPN recently said it would keep in close contact with shareholders, specifically naming América Móvil, the Dutch cellphone giant fought the approach. It hired Goldman, Sachs & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to mount an ultimately futile defense that coincided with a previously announced strategic review.
The Hague-based target had hoped to link its German E-Plus cellular unit, the country's No. 3 provider, with a rival but later said valuations made a deal impossible. The company reportedly held talks with Spain's Telefónica SA, which runs Germany's No. 4 network operator O2. The Spanish company is preparing to sell shares in the division to pay down its unwieldy debt pile.
KPN also announced a sale of its Belgian Base division, that country's No. 3 cellular company. The auction is expected to attract interest from private equity firms including Apax Partners LLP, which picked up Orange Switzerland from France Télécom SA earlier this year, and carry a price tag of about €1.8 billion.
América Móvil limited the offer to avoid having to buy the entire company but will still have significant influence since not all shares are voted during shareholder meetings. The company is expected to quickly pitch in on a much-needed restructuring at KPN.
The Dutch company is under close supervision by the Dutch telecommunications regulator, known as Onafhankelijke Post en Telecommunicatie Autoriteit, or OPTA, after the country's competition authority began investigating KPN for price fixing. The company in January also lost CFO Carla Smits-Nusteling after she said she disagreed with internal governance procedures. The company has denied any wrongdoing.
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