Carlos Slim is definitely sending European the telecommunications sector a message: he’s coming and he’s definitely not bluffing. The billionaire’s Latin American’ telecommunications business, America Movil, has been spending quite aggressively to build its European presence.
Most recently, reports now say that AM has bought another 4.65M shares of KPN, bringing its total holdings to 8.46%. KPN spurned his bid to purchase 27.7% of the company at a higher price than he has been paying to do it the hard way. Normally, when one of the world’s richest men starts buying in bulk, the stock goes up – but KPN’s shareholders can’t seem to get excited about this turn of events.
But Slim made an even bigger move last week, taking a 20%+ stake in Telekom Austria by agreeing to purchase a big piece in a private transaction from the partnership of Rony Pecik and Naguib Sawiris. The latter two had been agitating for a major reorganization and threatening to sell if they didn’t get it, and in fact that seems to be what happened. Telekom Austria is still 28.4% state-owned, but one wonders if Slim might try to take its ownership even higher.
Is Carlos Slim just looking to buy a collection of minority positions in the continent’s second tier mobile incumbents? Or might he be testing the waters before he has AM buy something outright next?
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