KPN calls off sale of Belgian mobile unit


KPN, the ailing Dutch telecom operator currently being eyed by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, has called off the sale of its Belgian mobile unit after it deemed bids for the business as being too low.

The company is now faced with the challenging prospect of reducing its debt pile and financing future growth in other ways.

A rights issue has also been ruled out, as have any further cuts in its dividend.

Blackstone, Cinven and Providence are reported to have tabled bids for the business two weeks ago, in a sale process that was expected to raise up to €1.7bn to help pay down its crippling debt load.

Belgian media group De Persgroep and Telenet, Belgium’s biggest cable operator, also submitted offers for the unit, which currently ranks as the country’s third-biggest mobile phone business.

Mexican tycoon and minority KPN shareholder Slim increased his stake in the company to 28 per cent earlier this year through his America Movil business, despite an attempt by KPN to fend him off.

Earlier reports suggested Blackstone, Cinven, Providence, Bain and KKR were among a list of potential buyers in talks to partner with Telenet over a possible joint bid for BASE.

Telenet began mulling a takeover as KPN looked for ways to counter America Movil’s tender offer.

The news follows recent reports that investors including EQT and Macquarie are currently eyeing the sale of KPN’s German telecom towers business, which could fetch up to €300m.

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