KPN’s Belgian Wireless Unit Attracts Interest From Bidders

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KPN Mobile Phone Store
Customers exit a KPN mobile phone store, operated by Royal KPN NV, in The Hague. The Dutch phone carrier is reviving the sale of its Belgian mobile-phone business Base amid a wave of consolidation in the telecommunications industry, people with knowledge of the matter said last month. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Royal KPN NV has received interest from several parties for its Belgian mobile-phone business Base and said it’s exploring all options for the division, which may be valued at about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

The Dutch carrier didn’t name the potential bidders in its e-mailed statement on Thursday. KPN is reviving the sale of Base amid a wave of consolidation in the telecommunications industry, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

Telenet Group Holding NV and Nethys SA have submitted a joint bid to buy Base, L’Echo reported today, citing sources it didn’t name. Bert Holtkamp, a spokesman for Liberty Global Plc, the majority-owner of Telenet, declined to comment on the report.

Telenet and Nethys would be able to realize the biggest savings from an acquisition, according to Marc Hesselink, an analyst at ABN Amro Bank, who values Base at about 1 billion euros.

KPN shares rose 2.1 percent to 3.31 euros at 9:02 a.m. in Amsterdam, giving the company a market value of about 14.1 billion euros. Telenet rose 1.1 percent.

KPN Chief Executive Officer Eelco Blok’s efforts to sell Base in 2012 were halted because the bids were too low. Divesting Base leaves KPN with operations only in its home market as the carrier completed the sale of its German unit E-Plus to Telefonica Deutschland last year.

Base has said it’s focused on increasing the share of customers with monthly contracts and their data usage in Belgium, where consumption remains relatively low. KPN reported 711 million euros in sales for its Belgian business in 2014 and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 149 million euros.

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