EQT of Stockholm ‘considering bid for KPN’, says agency

EQT of Stockholm ‘considering bid for KPN’, says agency

12 October 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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EQT, the Swedish investor that owns half of Zayo, is looking to buy KPN, according to unconfirmed reports.

The Bloomberg news agency said it “is in the early stages of discussing the feasibility of a deal with potential advisers”, citing sources it did not name “because the information is private”.

The agency said: “No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty that EQT’s deliberations will lead to an offer … Any suitor would want to win the backing of KPN management and the Dutch government after the former telecom monopoly previously fought off an unwanted takeover.”

KPN has steadily sold off most of its operations outside of its Netherlands fixed and mobile business over the past few years, including its German mobile company, E-Plus, bought by Telefónica in 2016, its global carrier business, iBasis, acquired by Tofane Global in early 2019, and KPN International, bought last year by GTT for €50 million.

EQT itself has been highly acquisitive: it bought Zayo last year in a joint venture with Digital Colony, and also owns a stake in fibre network Deutsche Glasfaser.

Bloomberg notes in its report that the Netherlands government has the power to block a takeover, and KPN itself can use a separate foundation as a defence.

KPN has been a takeover target for many years: nearly two decades ago a plan to merge with Belgacom – now Proximus – failed, partly because of a disagreement about whether the merged operation should be based in The Hague or Brussels.