América Móvil’s KPN deal threatened by KPN Foundation

Mexican operator América Móvil has said that it is prepared to withdraw its €2.40/share bid for full ownership of Dutch incumbent KPN after the independent KPN foundation exercised an option to buy shares that has given it almost 50 per cent of the voting rights in the telco.

The Foundation said in a statement that it planned to retain these shares only temporarily but that it had made the move to protect the interests of a range of KPN stakeholders in the face of what it perceived to be a hostile takeover bid from the Mexican operator.

América Móvil, led by Carlos Slim, announced its intention to acquire KPN earlier in August. It already holds just shy of 30 per cent of the Dutch incumbent.

The Foundation said that it wanted América Móvil to open negotiations with KPN’s board to pursue an acquisition strategy more “in accordance with the rules and what is common practice in the Netherlands”. It said it wanted to see a Merger Protocol, a formal offer document and a Position Paper that set out América Móvil’s intentions and commitments to a wide range of stakeholders, including employees, subsidiaries, trades unions, the Dutch Government and “Dutch society more generally.”

América Móvil responded with a list of the contributions it has already made to KPN since becoming a shareholder last summer, when KPN was “suffering the impact of years of underinvestment” and had “lost market share…as thousands of dissatisfied customers jumped ship.

It had secured a sweetened deal from rival Telefónica for KPN’s German operation E-Plus, the firm said, and had “operating know-now and scale that KPN lacks and that can yield important improvements for the company.”

América Móvil closed its response with a warning that it was prepared to abandon the deal if the Foundation continues to seek to “prevent the offer from proceeding to the detriment of KPN’s customers, employees and shareholders, and also to the detriment of the telecommunication services in the Netherlands.”

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