Report: Bidders line up for KPN's Belgian BASE unit

KPN has reportedly attracted a raft of potential buyers for its Belgian mobile unit BASE, which the Dutch operator is planning to sell in order to help reduce its debt mountain.

A report by Reuters, citing unnamed sources close to the process, said Belgium's media group De Persgroep, cable company Telenet and private equity firms Blackstone, Providence and Cinven all submitted non-binding bids last week.

According to Belgian daily newspaper De Standaard, €1.8 billion has been floated as a possible price tag, but market speculation is that bids could be around €1.6 billion to € 1.75 billion including debt. The paper also noted that De Persgroep, KPN Group Belgium and Roularta recently founded a joint company, Mplus Group, previously known by the codename "Hawaii," to sell personal content services to mobile users.

Reuters cited sources as saying that BASE could fetch between €1.4 billion and €1.7 billion euros or five to six times its estimated EBITDA of €280 million for 2012.

KPN is looking to secure a bid in September, but the reports said it would keep BASE it within the group if bids were too low. KPN's new 28-per cent shareholder, Carlos Slim's América Móvil, has also made clear its preference to keep BASE within the KPN.

BASE is the smallest of Belgium's three main mobile operators behind Belgacom and Mobistar, and was put up for sale in July. The sell-off is one of several measures the Dutch operator plans to take to counter falling revenue in its domestic market.

KPN said last week it plans to upgrade nearly all of its base stations in the Netherlands as part of an effort to cope with an upsurge in mobile data traffic. The company said that the work will involve replacing almost all of its 3,900 existing base stations by 2014.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this De Standaard article (translated via Google Translate)

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