VIENNA Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim has agreed to consolidate his company and family stakes in Telekom Austria, clarifying his position in the eyes of regulators that monitor when stakeholdings become large enough to trigger takeover bids.
Slim's America Movil will own 26.8 percent of Telekom Austria after buying a 3.14 percent stake from a family foundation, enough to veto big decisions at the Austrian firm but below the 30-percent mandatory takeover offer threshold.
Telekom Austria shares, which have been buoyed by speculation that Slim will eventually try to take over the rest of the company, closed up 1.3 percent at 6.60 euros on Thursday, the top gainers in Europe's telecoms index.
Carso Telecom B.V., America Movil's European holding company, will in future hold the entire 26.8 percent stake that was previously split with the family foundation.
The Austrian government owns 28 percent of the former state telecoms provider and has said it is committed to maintaining a blocking minority of at least 25 percent.
Telekom Austria said the takeover commission had expressed concern that America Movil and the Slim family foundation might come within the scope of a law designed to prevent parties that appear separate from acting together to control companies.
America Movil, which also owns a stake in Dutch group KPN, has been seeking to invest outside Latin America, where regulation and competition have been squeezing sales.
It invested in KPN and Telekom Austria in 2012, when their share prices appeared low, although they later fell further amid intense competition and an economic crisis in Europe.
Unlike the case of KPN, where America Movil was thwarted in a takeover bid by a foundation that saw it as hostile, America Movil has been welcomed by Telekom Austria, which has repeatedly described the relationship as constructive.
America Movil has said it does not plan a hostile takeover bid for Telekom Austria.
A spokeswoman for America Movil did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan, additional reporting by Elinor Comway in Mexico; Editing by Michael Shields and Mark Potter)