América Móvil buys stake in Telekom Austria
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal published Monday, Mexican telecommunications company América Móvil has confirmed that it has now secured a majority stake in the former national phone company of Austria, with 50.8 percent.
The report says that the company controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim has made an offer of around 104 million shares, consisting of 23.5 percent of Austria Telekom, at the rate of €7.15 ($9.74) for each Telekom Austria share. The offer gives Slim close to the 51 percent which he sought.
The deal will come as América Móvil sheds some assets in Mexico to avoid regulatory measures levied against potential market dominance, as that country's largest incumbent telecommunications provider.
Slim first moved into Europe in 2012, acquiring stakes in Telekom Austria and Dutch provider Royal KPN. The Netherlands company has rejected offers for a full buyout, which have been welcomed by Austrian shareholders.
América Móvil, also known by its stock symbol AMX, has recently focused on transactions in Europe. It dominates the Latin American cellular market with 270 million lines in 18 countries.
Last week, Slim announced that he will sell off part of his massive holdings in Mexico where he controls 80 percent of land lines and 70 percent of cellular lines -- to focus more on cable television.
His moves were to come into compliance with Mexico's new telecoms regulations seeking to boost competition in the Mexican market. Slim is expected to reduce his market shares to under 50 percent, or face fines.
Slim, América Móvil's billionaire founder from a family of Lebanese immigrants, figures regularly on a list of the world's richest men.
He ranked number two after Bill Gates on Forbes magazine's most recent wealth survey this year, with family assets of $76.1 billon.
The Austrian Federal Competition Authority BWB (Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde) gave a green light to the Telekom-Austria voting trust agreement between the Austrian state-holding company, ÖIAG, and the Mexican company in June.
Telekom Austria corporate headquarters in Vienna. Photo: Telekom Austria
This article was revised to reflect that the currently agreed stake is 50.8 percent, and not the 51 percent previously sought by Slim. Portions of this report are sourced from AFP.