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KPN ‘facing €12.5bn takeover bid’ from private equity investors

KPN flagpoles.jpg

Swedish private equity investor EQT is making another attempt to buy KPN, this time with US investor Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, according to reports.

None of the alleged partners — neither KPN nor EQT or Stonepeak — are commenting on the rumours, first published in the Wall Street Journal.

The report said that the duo were offering €3 a share, valuing KPN at €12.5 billion. KPN’s share price went up from around €2.92 to €2.95 on the news, but today dropped to €2.88, giving the company a market cap of €12.08 billion.

EQT, which has a number of telecoms interests including 50% of Zayo in a joint venture with Digital Colony, was last reported to be hovering over KPN in October and November 2020 when sources were saying the two sides were in talks. KPN shares were then valued at €2.64, giving the company a valuation of €11.1 billion.

KPN’s CEO Joost Farwerck said in October that the company was open to interest. “If somebody comes along with an interesting proposal, we can always listen, but we’re not focused on it,” he told reporters.

América Móvil, the Latin American company that is KPN’s biggest shareholder, tried to buy the company for €8 a share in 2013. It has increased its stake from 13% to 20% in January this year. At one stage América Móvil held 30%.

An independent foundation, Stichting Preferenteaandelen KPN B, controls 50% of the company’s shares so can block any takeover bid. So can the government of the Netherlands, which has had the right since last year to block acquisitions of telecoms companies in the interest of national security.

In the distant past KPN and Belgacom — now Proximus — have entertained ideas of merging, but in at least one case talks failed because they could not agree whether the merged company should be based in the Netherlands or Belgium.