Austrian Regulator Probes Slim Buying Telekom Austria Stake

Austria’s competition authority is examining America Movil (AMXL) SAB’s acquisition of a stake in Telekom Austria AG (TKA), according to a filing today.

The watchdog is examining Carlos Slim’s company increasing its stake to as much as 22.76 percent of voting rights, which “at most could be a participation of up to 25.9 percent,” the competition authority said on its website today. The deadline for submitting requests for a more in-depth probe ends Aug. 27, according to the filing.

America Movil on June 15 agreed to buy 21 percent in Telekom Austria from investor Ronny Pecik, boosting its stake to about 23 percent. Additionally, the billionaire’s Inmobiliaria Carso SA investment fund holds a 3.14 percent stake. Telekom Austria said at the time that the deal was announced that according to Austrian law the two stakes can’t be added up as the companies are not controlled by one legal or natural person.

In November, Austria amended a law to limit ownership of infrastructure companies by non-Europeans. A new clause in the country’s Foreign Trade Act states that stakes of 25 percent or more require approval by the Ministry of Economics unless the investor is from the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner said in a television interview with Austrian state broadcaster ORF on June 19 that a probe of the deal had started. He declined to elaborate.

The ministry said today that it had nothing to add to Mitterlehner’s comments. According to Austrian law, the ministry can start a probe both ex officio or upon request from an involved party.

America Movil is establishing footholds in Europe as the continent’s debt crisis hurts the value of phone companies in the region. America Movil said June 27 it succeeded in amassing the 28 percent stake it sought in Royal KPN NV (KPN), the former Dutch phone monopoly.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Zoe Schneeweiss at zschneeweiss@bloomberg.net

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