An independent foundation that sought to thwart a 7.2 billion-euro ($9.6 billion) bid by billionaire Carlos Slim for control of Royal KPN NV (KPN) is now standing down after Slim’s company walked away.
The group, which exercised an option in August to acquire KPN preferred stock to stall America Movil SAB’s 2.40 euro-a-share offer for the Dutch phone company, requested a shareholder meeting to vote on the redemption of 4.26 billion preference shares. Those shares aren’t publicly traded.
America Movil last month withdrew its offer, which the foundation had called hostile, after failing to reach an agreement with KPN over price. The Mexico City-based carrier is left with a stake of about 30 percent and must wait for six months before making another bid. The shareholder meeting could happen in January or February, Pieter Bouw, a member of the board at the foundation, said today.
“Our main goal was that the main parties would get to the table to negotiate and get an agreement on all aspects that have to do with such a takeover,” Bouw said on a conference call.
In a statement, KPN said it will hold the investor meeting “in due course.” Frank Jansen, a spokesman at Citigate in Amsterdam, which represents America Movil, wasn’t immediately available to comment.
KPN rose 0.4 percent to 2.48 euros at 10:55 a.m. in Amsterdam. The shares are up 10 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 10.6 billion euros.
Europe has attracted Slim’s attention after the region’s debt crisis, intensifying competition and tight regulation battered telecommunications stocks. KPN shares dropped 66 percent in the four years through Nov. 8, while Telekom Austria AG (TKA) fell 48 percent. America Movil also owns a holding in Telekom Austria.
Slim could spend America Movil’s cash elsewhere in Europe. With cash flow amounting to at least $2.83 billion in each of the past eight quarters, Slim’s coffers give him flexibility to pursue other investments in Europe, such as potentially increasing his stake in Telekom Austria.
The KPN foundation is in charge of defending the interests of KPN’s shareholders, employees and customers, as well as Dutch society. It has existed since the Dutch government first sold shares in KPN in 1994. On its board are Chairman Jacques Schraven, Vice ChairmanBouw, Hans Zwarts, Jan Klaassen and Peter Wakkie.
“This isn’t aimed specifically at one party,” Wakkie said on the call. “This is just a reflection of the rights that the foundation has based on the agreement it has with KPN.”
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