KPN’s new CEO ‘not looking for international M&As’

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Netherlands operation says new CEO will be ‘focused on small in-country acquisitions’

KPN is looking for small acquisitions within the Netherlands but is not wanting international acquisitions, the company has said.

The declaration came after a report from the Bloomberg news agency said new CEO Maximo Ibarra would look at acquisitions when he joins in April 2018.

Bloomberg listed his potential targets as Belgian operator Proximus – formerly Belgacom – as will as Denmark’s TDC and Finland’s Elisa.

KPN reported that it had noticed what it called “rumours related to [its] strategy” and said: “KPN’s M&A strategy is focused on small in-country acquisitions and it has no plans to make international acquisitions.”

It said the “supervisory board fully supports the current strategic direction of KPN to further strengthen its position in the Dutch market”, and said “KPN is in a strong position today”.

Bloomberg cited as its source “people, who asked not to be identified discussing private plans”, and the agency carried KPN’s denial.

Nevertheless the agency added: “Ibarra’s ambitions would be an about-face from the path of current CEO Eelco Blok, who divested German and Belgian units, leaving the carrier with a shrinking domestic business plagued by fierce competition.”

Ibarra was CEO of Italy’s Wind, part of Veon, and oversaw its merger with CK Hutchison’s Three to create Wind Tre. He joined Wind in 2004 as vice president of mobile marketing after spells at Fiat and Benetton, but worked at Vodafone for four years in the 1990s.

KPN and the then Belgacom had a number of attempts to merge a decade ago but failed to agree terms, because the Belgian state has a majority stake in Belgacom and because the group’s disagreed about the location of a future head office.