Swisscom offers PubliGroupe 230 mln to fully own web directories

ZURICH, April 25 Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:15am EDT

ZURICH, April 25 (Reuters) - Telecoms group Swisscom said it had submitted a non-binding offer worth 230 million Swiss francs ($261 million) to buy PubliGroupe's shares in two local directory businesses, creating the potential for a takeover battle.

The bid from Switzerland's national telecoms provider comes on the heels of last week's public tender offer for all shares in PubliGroupe from Swiss media company Tamedia AG. The offer of 150 Swiss francs per share values the advertising group at around 375 million francs.

At the heart of both bids is a battle for control of PubliGroupe's online directory platforms, which stand to benefit as the market for digital advertising grows.

Swisscom's 230 million franc bid excludes planned dividend payments and is to purchase the shares in LTV Yellow Pages Ltd and Swisscom Directories Ltd, which it does not already own. Its aim is to gain full control of website local.ch, which provides information on phone numbers.

The telecoms operator owns 51 percent of Swisscom Directories, of which local.ch is a subsidiary, and 49 percent of LTV Yellow Pages Ltd, with the remaining share holdings belonging to PubliGroupe.

The three companies, which operate under the brand local.ch, generated a combined revenue of 200 million francs last year.

In a separate statement, PubliGroupe said its board would carefully consider Swisscom's offer along with last week's tender bid from Tamedia.

Media companies are looking to new revenue streams as sales of traditional newspapers dwindle.

Tamedia, which publishes the national daily TagesAnzeiger, said it was looking to strengthen its position in the directories business by gaining access to local.ch.

It already owns a 75 percent stake in search.ch, the leading directory and information platform in the Swiss market. Tamedia said the two platforms serve 4.8 million users per month. ($1 = 0.8824 Swiss Francs) (editing by Jane Baird)