Mexico's Slim, Telekom Austria reach ownership deal
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 effective 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, agreed to back a 1 billion euro capital increase for Telekom Austria and to pay 7.15 euros a share for the company's outstanding stock, in a co-ownership deal combining its stake with that of Austrian state holding company OIAG.
The agreement is a coup for America Movil, which is facing increasing regulation and competition in Latin America, especially in its home market of Mexico. It has also suffered various setbacks in its attempts to expand in Europe.
Rudolf Kemler, the head of OIAG, said in a statement the accord guaranteed a blocking minority and key posts at the state holding company and would enable Telekom Austria to embark on "massive growth" in Eastern and Central Europe.
America Movil said once the deal was in place, it would obtain "operational responsibilities" in Telekom Austria, which does business in Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Liechtenstein and Slovenia as well as Austria.
The agreement will stand for 10 years with an option to extend for a further five, the OIAG said, adding that it would hold the right to designate the chief executive of Telekom Austria and its supervisory board chairman.
The price America Movil will pay per share is a premium of 10.7 percent over the six-month average stock price for Telekom Austria, or the minimum bid required.
America Movil already holds 26.4 percent of Telekom Austria, which as of December 31, 2013 had some 2.6 million fixed line subscribers, 20.1 million wireless subscribers and revenues of 4.184 billion euros (3.445 billion pounds), the Mexican company said. Continuación...