BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Mexican telecoms group America Movil said it has put in place financing to buy the rest of Dutch group KPN even though its offer may be too late to influence the sale of KPN’s German unit in October.
The Mexican group controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim made the offer weeks after KPN announced it would sell E-Plus to Spain’s Telefonica for 8.1 billion euros ($11 billion) in cash and shares, disrupting America Movil’s foray into Europe.
People close to the matter said at the time that Slim’s company, which already owns close to 30 percent in KPN, viewed the offer as too low and fraught with regulatory risks.
Shortly after America Movil made its announcement on Wednesday, KPN said it would convene a shareholders meeting on October 2 to vote on the E-Plus sale.
KPN’s shares rose as much as 3.35 percent on Wednesday, making them one of the strongest performers on the FTSEurofirst 300 Index of leading European shares.
At 2.29 euros per share, they remained below the 2.40 euros America Movil is bidding, indicating the market is not holding out for a higher price.
While America Movil expects its offer to proceed in September, it will not come soon enough to increase its holding in KPN significantly ahead of the shareholders meeting.
KPN said that only those holding KPN shares as of September 4 would be eligible to vote at the EGM.
Should America Movil breach the threshold of 30 percent by other means than its voluntary offer, a judge could force it to make a mandatory offer and pay a “reasonable price”, according to Dutch law.
Such a price is in theory the highest price a bidder has paid in the year previous to the announcement of a mandatory bid, Dutch market regulator AFM says on its website, adding that this would have to be determined by a judge.
Determining such a price would be no easy task, as America Movil offered 8 euros per share in May 2012 but shares fell to a low of 1.38 euros just after KPN’s rights issue in April 2013.
Even with its current stake of 30 percent, America Movil may be able to block the deal, given the traditionally low turnout at KPN’s shareholders meetings.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and David Cowell