Mexico's Slim reaches deal for control of Telekom Austria
By Georgina Prodhan and Dave Graham
VIENNA/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's Carlos Slim struck an 11th-hour deal on Wednesday with the Austrian government that could give him control of Telekom Austria and allow the multi-billionaire to consolidate his foothold in Europe as he expands outside the Americas.
Slim's telecoms group, America Movil (AMXL.MX: Cotización), agreed to back a 1 billion euro capital increase for Telekom Austria (TELA.VI: Cotización) and to pay 7.15 euros a share for the company's outstanding stock, in a co-ownership deal combining its stake with Austrian state holding company OIAG's holdings.
The price America Movil will pay per share represents a premium of 10.7 percent over the six-month average share price for Telekom Austria, which was the minimum bid America Movil and Austria would be obliged to make.
Latin America's biggest telecoms company already holds 26.4 percent of Telekom Austria. OIAG has 28.4 percent.
The agreement is a coup for America Movil, which is facing increasing regulation and competition in Latin America and which has suffered various setbacks in its attempts to expand in Europe. But the deal should allow Slim to begin consolidating his European ventures, which began in 2012, with investments of more than $1 billion in Telekom Austria and $3.4 billion in Dutch group KPN (KPN.AS: Cotización).
Wednesday's agreement envisages pooling the stake held by the OIAG with the stake held by America Movil in a syndicate in which both parties would have to vote in unison on major issues.
The syndicate agreement allows Slim, one of the world's richest people, to raise his holding in Telekom Austria. The OIAG has said its stake could fall to, but not below, 25 percent. It has declined to commit to keeping pace with Slim.
Slim's original purchase of his Telekom Austria and KPN stakes took advantage of market valuations seen as cheap at the time, as he sought diversification outside Latin America where regulators are looking askance at his dominance. Continuación...