America Movil makes $9.6 billion bid for rest of KPN

Fri Aug 9, 2013 5:14pm EDT
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By Alexandra Alper and Sophie Sassard

MEXICO CITY/LONDON (Reuters) - Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's America Movil defied arch-rival Telefonica with a 7.2 billion euro ($9.6 billion) bid for the 70 percent of Dutch telecoms group KPN that it does not already own.

Spain's Telefonica made an $11 billion offer last month to buy KPN's crown jewel, Germany's E-Plus, disrupting America Movil's expensive - and on paper money-losing - foray into Europe.

America Movil and Telefonica together control about 60 percent of mobile phone business in Latin America. The Mexican firm's purchase of stakes in KPN and Telekom Austria brought their rivalry to Europe, and the battle there now looks set to rage for months to come.

European telecoms firms are mostly struggling with saturated markets, recession-hit consumers, tough regulation and expensive network upgrades, leading some to look at consolidation.

America Movil is still evaluating Telefonica's bid for E-Plus, which is backed by KPN's board. But people close to the matter have said Slim's company views the offer as too low and fraught with regulatory risks, fueling speculation that it might try to block the deal or push for a higher price.

Telefonica said on Friday its offer still stands and is "definitive."

America Movil and Telefonica have been bitter rivals for years in Europe and the Americas, going after the same spectrum licenses and assets - most notably a battle for a stake in Telecom Italia in 2007 - a fight Telefonica won.

A Telekom Austria source said America Movil was likely to launch a bid for the rest of that company as well. Under Austrian law, the Mexican firm cannot bid below the 9.50 euros per share that sources said it paid investor Ronny Pecik for his stake last year.   Continued...

The data center of Dutch telecoms group KPN is seen in Haarlem May 31, 2012. REUTERS/Paul Vreeker/United Photos