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Swisscom PubliGroupe Directory Unit Bid Rivals Tamedia Offer

April 25 (Bloomberg) -- Swisscom AG offered to buy stakes in two directory businesses it jointly owns with PubliGroupe SA for 230 million Swiss francs ($261 million), rivaling Tamedia AG’s bid for the advertising company. Shares of PubliGroupe rose to their highest since 2008.

A deal would require approval by the Swiss Competition Commission and PubliGroupe shareholders, Bern-based Swisscom said in a statement today. Swisscom owns the remaining stakes in the businesses, which run an online directory called local.ch providing phone number information. The price excludes dividend payments, Swisscom said.

PubliGroupe shares rose as much as 10.8 percent to 175.7 francs, the highest intraday price since Sept. 26, 2008 and traded at 172.7 francs as of 10:55 a.m.

“The full takeover of Local.ch has long been an issue for us,” Swisscom spokesman Carsten Roetz said by phone today. “Now, it’s the right time and we think our offer is a good offer.”

Swisscom is aiming to take control of local.ch while further developing its strategic directories business and streamlining the company structure, the phone company said in a statement.

The offer by Swisscom comes after Tamedia, which publishes the Zurich daily newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, said April 17 it will bid 150 Swiss francs a share for PubliGroupe to add local.ch to its directory business.

Expected Offers

“We will take the bid by Swisscom into account for the publication of the offer prospectus,” Tamedia spokesman Christoph Zimmer said by phone today.

Based on the current information, the company doesn’t intend to change the offer price, he said. Zimmer added that Tamedia expected offers by other investors to follow after the company announced its bid for PubliGroupe.

“We are reviewing both offers,” said Beat W. Werder, head of corporate communications at PubliGroupe.

Both proposed transactions would need approval of the shareholders of PubliGroupe and won’t be on the agenda at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on April 29th, Werder said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Thomas Mulier in Geneva at tmulier@bloomberg.net; Jan Schwalbe in Zurich at jschwalbe6@bloomberg.net; Jan-Henrik Förster in Zurich at jforster20@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Risser at drisser@bloomberg.net Kim McLaughlin, John Bowker

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