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América Móvil to take 23% of Telekom Austria
15 June 2012
Telekom Austria CEO welcomes move by Carlos Slim’s América Móvil to buy 23% stake in group
América Móvil, controlled by Carlos Slim, is to become the biggest shareholder in the Telekom Austria Group after the government of Austria. The company, based in Mexico City, is to buy the 16% share in the Austrian group now owned by a private trust.
As América Móvil already owns 6.7% — having bought an additional 5% hours before the announcement — the Mexican company will own 23%. No price has been disclosed for the deal, but Telecom Austria is capitalised at €3.5 billion, making América Móvil’s stake worth just over €800 million.
Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Telekom Austria, welcomed the news. He told Global Telecoms Business: “It’s a good thing that we have a strategic investor. América Móvil is now considering Europe as a good field for investment.”
América Móvil is talking at the same time about buying a larger stake in Dutch operator KPN, a move which KPN is resisting. The Mexican group has previously considered investments in Poland and Serbia.
The European Commission “is not supporting its telco players”, said Ametsreiter, criticising the European Union leadership’s policy on termination rates and roaming fees. As a result European operators are undervalued compared with Asian and American companies, he said.
América Móvil is buying its extra 16% from banker and investor Ronny Pecik, who built up the stake through his vehicle RPR Privatstiftung. “I understand Pecik will sell all his shares,” Ametsreiter told GTB.
The government of Austria is still the biggest shareholder, with 28.4% through its investment arm Österreichische Industrieholding. The government has the right to approve any shareholding of more than 25%, according to Ametsreiter. “There is no indication of the government selling,” he added.
It is still too early to gauge the impact of the América Móvil, he told GTB. “What it means in terms of cooperation I cannot say.” Ametsreiter has not yet held any meetings with América Móvil about their plans. “I know the management of América Móvil but we have not discussed the deal in detail.”
However, “it was not really a surprise”, he added. “I’ve known them for quite a while. If you are in the industry for 16 years you know people.”
The deal will give the Telekom Austria group, which owns a number of mobile businesses across eastern Europe, “continuity and financial firepower”, he said. “The last 12 months have not been an easy time for us”, because of repeated rumours about shareholdings in the group. “Now we have a decision, and our new investor is a big strategic player.”
The América Móvil deal for Pecik’s shares is expected to be completed during 2012.
A statement from América Móvil said that “Pecik is expected to continue to serve as vice-chairman of
the supervisory board and to support the future development of Telekom Austria”. The Mexican company said the deal is part of its “geographic diversification strategy” that “provides an attractive presence in central and eastern Europe”. América Móvil “expects to develop a constructive relationship with Telekom Austria’s stakeholders and is confident about the company’s overall potential for development”. GTB
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