MasMovil shareholder seeks better terms on takeover bid

MADRID/LONDON (Reuters) - AllianceBernstein AWF.N, which holds around a 1.25% stake in MasMovil MASM.MC, said on Tuesday a takeover offer for the Spanish telecoms company from three private equity funds was too low and asked the board to seek better terms or rival bids.

FILE PHOTO: A balloon with the logo of Masmovil is seen during its bourse debut in Madrid, Spain, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Medina/File Photo

Buyout funds KKR KKR.N, Cinven and Providence launched a 2.96 billion euro ($3.34 billion) offer for MasMovil on June 1, which was backed by the Spanish company's board.

AllianceBernstein said that the takeover proposal substantially undervalued the company.

“We have expressed our concerns to the company’s board asking them to seek better terms, including potentially from other bidders,” AllianceBernstein said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

A spokesman for MasMovil was not immediately available for comment.

The takeover proposal includes commitments to sell from nearly 30% of MasMovil’s current shareholders.

Providence, which played a key role in orchestrating the takeover proposal, ranks as the company’s second biggest investor with a 9.16% stake.

AllianceBernstein is MasMovil’s 15th biggest shareholder with around 1.25%, Refinitiv Eikon data shows as of end-April.

U.S. investment fund BlackRock Inc BLK.N and other investors have built stakes in the Spanish telecom operator since the June 1 offer.

This has helped to push MasMovil’s shares to 22.90 euros per share as of 12.15 GMT on Tuesday, above the offer price of 22.50 euros per share.

Banking sources have described the 20% premium offered by the private equity consortium as “skinny” but said it would be challenging for counterbidders to step in since they would meet resistance from Providence.

French telecom group Orange ORAN.PA has said it does not plan to make a rival bid for MasMovil.

MasMovil has built up a position in Spain’s fiercely competitive market by buying lower-cost brands Pepephone and Yoigo. It is also planning to launch in Portugal and establish a new regional service in the Basque country in Northern Spain to rival regional operator Euskaltel.

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Abhinav Ramnarayan; Additional reporting by Pamela Barbaglia and Isla Binnie; Editing by Jan Harvey and Jane Merriman