AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Carlos Slim’s America Movil (AMXL.MX) has rejected a call by Dutch telecoms group KPN (KPN.AS) to waive some voting rights if the Mexican group succeeds in building up a big stake in the struggling European firm, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Carlos Garcia Moreno, chief financial officer at America Movil, told Dutch daily newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad that KPN’s request to forfeit some voting rights was “unacceptable”.
America Movil, which is Mexican billionaire Slim’s cash-cow, last month announced a tender to buy up to 28 percent of KPN, offering 8 euros per share. The tender offer, which KPN says is too low, runs until June 27.
A KPN spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment on the newspaper report.
KPN is worried that if America Movil acquires up to 28 percent of the company it could block key strategic decisions, given that no more than 50 percent of the shareholders typically turn up for shareholder meetings.
“From KPN’s perspective, with a 28 percent stake you could have quite a lot of influence, and they (KPN) want to limit this influence,” Frank Claassen, Rabobank analyst, said.
“Looking at the AGMs in the past years, you would have had a majority” with a 28 percent stake, Claassen added.
Alongside its tender offer, America Movil has been buying up shares in the open market at a lower price, and said on Monday it had boosted its stake in KPN to 8.46 percent, the fourth such increase in less than two weeks.
KPN shares traded up 0.6 percent at 7.936 euros on Tuesday morning.
“One share, one vote is sacred to us,” America Movil’s CFO told the Dutch newspaper in an interview.
“They knew that we would never accept” a proposal to waive some of the voting rights, he said.
He said America Movil was willing to enter into a shareholders agreement, but that giving up voting rights was “unacceptable to us. KPN would not do (this).”
Last week, America Movil said it was building its stake in Telekom Austria to 23 percent after buying out investor Ronny Pecik.
In addition, the Slim family disclosed on Friday it held another 3.14 percent voting stake in the Austrian firm.
Garcia Moreno indicated that America Movil could build up its stake in KPN in a similar way, by buying out a large shareholder.
“There are other ways to get a 27.7 percent interest in KPN,” he told the Dutch newspaper.
However, he said there was no plan to combine the Dutch and Austrian companies.
“There is not really a bigger plan. It is not our intention to combine the companies,” he said.
“Our approach towards KPN and Telekom Austria has been the same, i.e. we do it in a friendly way and we assume no operational responsibility.”
Reporting by Sara Webb; Editing by David Cowell and Mark Potter