America Movil’s bid for KPN hit a bit of a roadblock yesterday, as the independent foundation tasked with protecting KPN’s stakeholders exercised its option to take more than 49% of voting control. The move apparently surprised analysts, not that it happened but that it happened so soon. But I don’t think it surprised Carlos Slim & co.
It’s not KPN itself here, which is still talking to America Movil, and it’s not the Dutch government either, which is doing the same. It’s not clear just what they’re opposed to at this point, as the reason given is simply that America Movil had not consulted with KPN ahead of time. In other words, they think that America Movil wasn’t sufficiently polite.
What is strange here is that they played their only card right away, no negotiations or hints or whatever to angle for a better deal. They still could do that I guess, but it still seems like they jumped the gun. Whether the underlying aim is for a better price, employment guarantees, or just to keep the company in Dutch hands remains to be seen. But with the gloves off, now Carlos Slim can call their bluff.
America Movil is already threatening to withdraw if the foundation continues to object, even though the offer isn’t even formal yet and hence there is little to object to except the very idea of a deal. That would leave KPN back where it started, which as the stock price back in early July attests is not a happy place.
On the other hand, it could be that Slim knew they’d never let him buy all of KPN. By making the bid he managed to get a better price for E-Plus, and perhaps that is enough? Hmmm, I doubt it.
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