America Movil, Latin America’s largest mobile phone operator, has made a 7.2 billion euro bid for the 70 percent of shares in Dutch telecoms group KPN it does not already own.
America Movil’s owner is Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man.
The offer would block attempts by Spain’s Telefonica to buy KPN’s German business E-Plus. It also sends the message to Madrid that Slim would like the Spaniards to pay more for E-Plus.
Telefonica responded that its offer still stands and it will not raise it.
KPN said it is considering America Movil’s offer and will look at all options.
Telefonica wants E-Plus in order to strengthen its challenge to market leaders Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy.
“It looks like Slim is speculating on how desperate Telefonica is to get its hands on E-Plus,” said a German investor with shares in KPN, Telefonica and Telefonica Deutschland, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Analysts said Telefonica, which has sizable debts, might struggle to pay much more for E-Plus, but they also questioned whether America Movil was offering enough to win over KPN’s board and shareholders. They added that the Mexican firm’s finances were also looking stretched.
Shares in America Movil fell on news of the KPN bid. KPN gained 16 percent. Telefonica shares ended flat.