--America Movil secures more KPN stock as it moves into Europe
--Company CFO reiterates intention of being "strategic, long-term partner"
--Official says KPN objections were mostly over share price
(Updates with comments from company official)
By Anthony Harrup and Archibald Preuschat
America Movil SAB (AMX, AMX.MX), which is seeking to build a significant presence in Europe with minority stakes in several phone companies, said Thursday it has acquired additional shares of Royal KPN NV (KPN.AE) and now owns 20.9% of the Dutch telephone company.
The Mexican telecommunications company, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, last month launched an offer to raise its stake in KPN to about 28%, an offer that KPN management has opposed, saying it undervalues the company. In addition to the stake in KPN, America Movil has agreed to buy 21% of Austrian concern Telekom Austria (TKA.VI TKAGY) from investor Ronny Pecik, with plans to raise its stake to about 23%.
In a conference call with analysts, America Movil's Chief Financial Officer Carlos Garcia Moreno reiterated that the intention is to be a "strategic long-term partner" of the European concerns as the Mexican company enters new markets, having exhausted options for mergers and acquisitions in Latin America where it is the biggest wireless service provider.
America Movil had 246 million wireless subscribers in 18 countries in the Americas at the end of March, including 20 million in the U.S. where it operates as a virtual mobile-network operator. Latin America will remain America Movil's core market and main priority, Mr. Garcia Moreno said.
He said America Movil expects capital expenditures to be $9.5 billion this year, including investment in fourth-generation services, and that it will remain around that level in coming years.
Earlier Thursday, KPN put its Belgium operations up for sale and reiterated its recommendation to shareholders not to accept a partial takeover by America Movil.
The official announcement by KPN to divest itself of its Base mobile-phone business in Belgium comes just a day after talks between KPN and Telefonica SA (TEF) on a German market consolidation collapsed. KPN intended to sell its German mobile provider E-Plus to Telefonica to unlock shareholder value and to prevent shareholders from accepting the offer from America Movil. Telefonica competes with America Movil in Mexico and Latin America.
Mr. Garcia Moreno declined to comment on KPN's strategy for Germany, or suggest any other changes that could be made at the European companies.
"We're just arriving," he said. "It would be very pretentious for us to say we know everything and can tell them what to do."
The official attributed KPN's opposition to the bid mostly to difference of opinion over the EUR8.00 per-share price offered for the Dutch company stake, which, he added, could have led to other objections. He stressed the price was 23% above the market level prior to the offer.
Unlike KPN, Telekom Austria welcomed the arrival of America Movil as a partner.
Mr. Garcia Moreno said the $4.9 billion that America Movil is spending on the acquisitions, much of it with cash on hand, will push its net debt up to $27.8 billion from $22.9 billion, but that the company is being careful with its debt ratios in order to not put its credit ratings at risk. The average life of the company's debt is over 10 years, and average annual amortizations through 2020 are around $2.2 billion, he added.
America Movil had sales of around $49 billion in 2011.
Write to Anthony Harrup at email@example.com and Archibald Preuschat at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 21, 2012 15:59 ET (19:59 GMT)
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