BARCELONA, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Former Belgian telecoms monopoly Belgacom does not need to grow via mergers and acquisitions and a deal with Dutch peer KPN remains impractical, Belgacom Chief Executive Didier Bellens said on Wednesday.
“We don’t need M&A,” Bellens said. “We have a lot to do internally to improve our top line and core profit.”
Belgacom and KPN were in merger talks 10 years ago, but went their separate ways in August 2001, saying it had not been possible to reach an agreement in a difficult market.
Reports and market rumours about a combination of the two companies have cropped up repeatedly since then.
“A lot of bankers tell us there is one M&A deal which appears to be natural: Belgacom and KPN,” Bellens told the Morgan Stanley technology, media and telecoms conference in Barcelona.
Bellens said one of the issues that argued against a deal was the different levels of debt the companies had. According to Reuters data, Belgacom has a net debt to enterprise value ratio of 0.15, while KPN’s is more than three times that level at 0.48.
“Our shareholders have invested in a low-gearing company,” Bellens said of Belgacom, of which the Belgian state owns more than half.
Bellens also said that he was not interested in KPN’s German mobile unit, E-Plus. (Writing by Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)