* State raises 3.8 bln euros, well above target
* Four winners, including new entrant Tele2
* KPN to cut dividend for 2012, 2013 to pay for licences
By Thomas Escritt and Sara Webb
AMSTERDAM, Dec 14 The Dutch state raised much
more than expected in its auction of fourth generation (4G)
wireless frequencies, with prices so high market leader KPN
said it would have to cut dividends to afford its
The auction raised a much higher-than-expected 3.8 billion
euros ($5 billion) and the result will lead to fierce
competition in one of Europe's most lucrative mobile phone
markets as the winners roll out faster, fourth-generation
services which allow consumers to watch video and surf the
Internet on the move.
The Dutch market is currently dominated by KPN, Vodafone
and Deutsche Telekom, all three of which won
licences, as did new entrant Tele2 of Sweden.
Two cable companies - Ziggo and UPC, owned by
Liberty Global, which already have strong shares in
broadband and pay-TV - said they made a joint bid but later
pulled out of the auction later because the bidding went too
KPN, which is 28 percent owned by Mexican telecoms tycoon
Carlos Slim, said the cost of the licences meant it would no
longer be paying a final dividend for 2012 and would pay out
only 0.03 euros per share for 2013, far lower than already
revised dividend forecasts.
It had already cut its dividend forecast for this year to
0.35 euros from an initial planned payout of 0.90 euros. It has
paid an interim dividend of 0.12 euros.
KPN had been planning a payout for 2013 of 'at least' 0.35
Traders and analysts have previously expressed concern about
the ability of KPN to pay dividends given it has a debt to core
profit ratio exceeding its own targets. KPN shares hit a 10-year
low of 3.90 euros in November.
Eelco Blok, KPN's chief executive, later acknowledged on a
conference call that KPN was paying a "considerable price" for
the licence, but said that as the market leader, it could not
afford to miss out on the auction. He also said it would produce
a good return over its 17-year duration.
KPN, which expects to roll out its new 4G services from
February, did retain its outlook for 2012 core profit, cashflow
and capital expenditure.
It said it would draw on existing cash and its 2 billion
euro revolving credit facility to finance the purchase. The
dividend cut will save it 800 million euros.
Asked about the impact on debt and its financial health,
Blok said investors would have to wait until the company
reported fourth-quarter results on Feb 5.
The Dutch government had counted on raising about 480
million euros from the auction, and the better-than-expected
result provides a welcome windfall at a time of austerity
measures and budget cuts amounting to 46 billion euros by 2017.
The Netherlands set aside spectrum for new entrants at the
Oct. 31 auction in a bid to boost choice and lower prices in a
country with 19.6 million mobile phone subscriptions - more than
one for every head of population.
The auction of 41 separate spectrum licences was the biggest
in Dutch telecommunications history, the state telecoms agency
said on Friday.
Swedish firm Tele2, which was already present on the Dutch
market as a virtual operator, will now be able to build out its
own network, the agency said in a statement.
"This will create more competition," it added.
Vodafone paid 1.38 billion euros for nine licences, KPN paid
1.351 billion euros for 15 separate licences, while Deutsche
Telekom's T-Mobile spent 911 million euros on 15 licences. Tele2
made a bid of 161 million euros and won two licences.
Some of the spectrum licences will kick off next year and
most will run for 17 years.
"The existing Dutch mobile market today still faces one of
the highest price levels in Europe and slow innovation within
mobile broadband," Guenther Vogelpoel, CEO of Tele2 Netherlands,