| ZURICH, April 25
ZURICH, April 25 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)