Dutch telecom provider KPN turns down two billion-dollar bids

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KPN has rejected takeover bids from two different parties. Both a consortium of EQT and Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners and rival company KKR had made billion-dollar bids for the Dutch telecom provider.

The bids were possibly as high as 18 billion euros, according to the Financial Times. KPN told the newspaper that in the past few days, two different groups had approached the company for a possible acquisition. If the takeover had gone ahead, it would have been one of the largest in European history.

The telecom provider indicates that the board of directors had turned down both unsolicited approaches because it was not clear how the acquisition would contribute to the new strategy of the company. KPN claims to have held off discussions and negotiations with both groups.

Earlier rumours proved true

Rumours about a possible acquisition of KPN have been circulating since last autumn. The Swedish investment company EQT seemed to have set its sights on the company and, according to the rumours, was having talks with KPN. A stronger collaboration with the Dutch fibre provider Delta, already owned by EQT, was an obvious move.

Last month, the rumours became more concrete when EQT again showed interest in KPN and would work on a bid of 12.5 billion euros. For the first time, Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners was named as an investment partner, and it was suggested that a competitor might make a higher bid.

Both of these predictions turned out to be true, as it now appears that EQT had entered into a partnership with Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, an investment company that focuses on infrastructure projects. Moreover, it turns out that the American investment company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has also made a counter-offer.

Critical role in the infrastructure

An aquisition of KPN was always going to be a tough sell, given KPN’s history as a state-owned company and the critical role it plays in national infrastructure, suggests the Financial Times. This would require convincing not only KPN’s board but also the Dutch government of the benefits of the takeover.

Previous takeover attempts

This is not the first time KPN has rejected a takeover bid. In 2013, Mexican telecom company América Móvil, led by billionaire Carlos Slim, made a 7.2 billion euro bid for KPN. That acquisition ultimately fell through. In 2019, there were rumours that the Canadian company Brookfield Asset Management was toying with the idea of taking over KPN. In the end, nothing came of this either.

80 percent on fibre in 2026

Last week, KPN announced its quarterly results for Q1 2021. The company managed to increase its profit margin, despite declining revenues. The company also announced that it aims to have 80 percent of Dutch households connected to its fibre-optic network by 2026.