Altice, the cable and mobile telecoms group controlled by billionaire Patrick Drahi, told a Dutch newspaper over the weekend that it has "no interest" in buying the 21 per cent stake held in KPN by America Movil.
According to a report in De Telegraaf, Altice CEO Dexter Goei said the group was too busy with other projects, such as the integration of SFR in France and Portugal Telecom as well as the closing of the Suddenlink acquisition in the U.S.
Goei's comments came after America Movil indicated in its second-quarter results last week that its investment in KPN has been reclassified from a long-term investment to an "available for sale" asset, indicating that the KPN stake is on the table for interested parties.
Earlier in June, Goei had told the same newspaper that "it would be good if KPN belonged to us," but said the two companies were not in talks.
Reuters cited industry observers as saying that KPN is undercapitalised and "ripe for a takeover." However, any hostile approach could face the same obstacles that foiled America Movil when it tried to buy a majority stake in the company three years ago.
Orange has also been linked to a purchase of KPN: in June, Gervais Pellissier, who heads the group's European operations, said Orange would be among the possible buyers of smaller operators in Europe. The list might include Belgacom, KPN and Telecom Italia, the Financial Times reported at the time.
Meanwhile Altice recently announced a restructuring that will see the company merge with its new Dutch company called Altice NV to strengthen its ability to make future acquisitions. The move further underscores Altice's ambitions to expand its cable and mobile empire.
However, attempts to pick up more assets in France, where Altice recently secured mobile operator SFR to form Numericable-SFR, were thwarted in June after the Bouygues Group rejected the company's bid for its telecoms unit.
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