KPN under spotlight as Carlos Slim raises stake

Carlos Slim, the billionaire owner of América Móvil, has increased the pressure on KPN shareholders by purchasing another 6 million shares in the company, taking his holding to 7.3 per cent.

Slim acquired the shares in four separate transactions as part of his efforts to gain a 27.7 per cent holding in KPN in a bid valued at €2.64 billion. The 6 million shares were purchased in cash for €7.8 each, which is below the €8 per share price tendered by Slim in his original offer, which expires June 27. 

"The terms for the KPN offer, including the price, have not changed," a spokeswoman for América Móviltold Reuters after the company revealed its increased holding in KPN.

Commenting on this latest move, Valeria Romo at brokerage Monex, said KPN felt threatened by the América Móvil bid. "They are somehow dismantling the business by selling units and that is perhaps giving KPN shareholders some uncertainty," according to Reuters.

KPN management has rejected the offer from América Móvil saying that it under values the company.

Separately, Liberty Global, the owner of the Belgian cable operator Telenet, has indicated an interest in KPN's Belgian mobile unit BASE.

KPN announced in April that it was reviewing its future options for BASE, with sources close to the situation claiming that the mobile operator could attract offers of around €1.8 billion.

While private-equity firms including Bain Capital and CVC Capital Partners are thought to be interested, Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries has confirmed a willingness to look at BASE now it's for sale."We'll take a look at it, whether it's something we'll do is hard to say," Fries said in an interview with Bloomberg. "We looked at Switzerland too when Orange was sold, and we didn't do that."

However, Fries declined to say what might persuade Liberty to bid for BASE, but added: "It's never an easy decision, but we owe it to our shareholders to take a look at it."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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