Wireless carrier America Movil, owned by the world's richest man Carlos Slim, is looking to quadruple its current stake in troubled Dutch telecoms provider KPN, after making a €2.6bn offer for more shares.
The €8 per share bid would bring America Movil's stake in KPN up to 28 percent, from 4.8 percent and be the company's largest investment outside of Latin America.
While America Movil, the biggest mobile operator in Latin America, did not say why it had set a 28 percent limit, market participants have noted that Dutch financial regulations stipulate that whoever acquires 30 percent of voting rights in a company must make a formal takeover bid for all the remaining shares.
KPN shares surged 18 percent in early trading in Amsterdam to change had at €7.65, the highest level in nearly a month. On a year-to-date basis, the shares are down nearly 17.5 percent.
The bumper bid for KPN is the latest in a long line of expansion attempts by Slim, who has sought to expand his empire beyond Latin America. Slim has considered entering markets in Spain and Italy, as well as looking to buy up telecoms operations in Poland and Serbia, as America Movil currently only operates from the United States to Argentina.
"America Movil has continued to evaluate the expansion of its operations in other regions outside the Americas," said the company said in a statement. "Geographic diversification is a key element that has provided great stability to its cash flow and profitability."
According to a company statement, America Movil plans to pay for the deal in cash and it said it expects to get approval from the local securities regulator and carry out the offer by the beginning of June this year.
Meanwhile, Hague-based KPN has endured a series of troubling episodes. While is has had 44.5 million subscriptions, including 36.6 million wireless lines, at the end of last year, according to its website, KPN shares have plummeted by some 30 percent this year, after struggling to maintain profits while investing in its domestic broadband network. It has since been forced to consider asset sales and said it would eliminate as many as 5,000 jobs by 2013.
The Dutch telecoms provider has also been hit by a string of problems, which resulted in country's telecoms regulator said it is placing the group under close supervision, as it may have broken the law to the detriment of consumers and competitors. KPN's chief financial officer unexpectedly quit in January, citing disagreements over internal governance.
Yesterday, America Movil shares rose to the highest closing price since the group's 2001 spin-off from Telefonos de Mexico SAB, to 4.9 percent, worth 18.66 pesos per share in Mexico City,