KPN sells off Belgian mobile arm Base for €1.3bn

Belgian cable company Telent will take the third-placed operator off KPN's hands.

The consolidation that has marked the European telecoms market over the last few years has claimed another scalp, with the news that Dutch incumbent telco KPN is selling its Belgian mobile arm Base.

KPN announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement with Telenet, Belgium's largest cable provider, to sell Base for €1.3bn - approximately nine times its EBITDA last year.

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According to KPN, Base has around 3.3 million customers in Belgium and a market share by revenue of 21 percent. It's the third placed mobile operator in the country, behind Belgacom and Mobistar.

The acquisition is necessary for Telenet to "fully compete for the future growth opportunity of mobile data and to be able to provide an amazing customer experience on mobile comparable to Telenet's demonstrated track record in fixed and mobile to date," Telenet said in a statement.

The takeover, which is still subject to the usual regulatory approvals, will create a company that would have notched up €2.4bn in revenue last year, Telenet said. The company is predicting it will be able to generate synergies of €150m per year thanks to the two businesses' shared customers.

Telenet is majority owned by pan-European cable and broadband company Liberty Global, which has made a number of acquisitions in recent years, including UK ISP Virgin Media for $23.3bn, Dutch cable firm Ziggo for €10bn, and Germany cable company Kabel BW for €3.2bn. It also moved to acquire Kabel Deutschland in 2013 but was subsequently outbid by Vodafone.

KPN has not disclosed how it will spend the cash from selling Base. "A further announcement on the use of proceeds will be made on completion of the transaction," the company said.

"Following this valuable transaction, KPN will fully focus on its successful integrated access strategy in The Netherlands," it added. The Hague-headquartered telco has divested itself of several overseas assets of late, including a German call centre business, and most notably, its German mobile subsidiary E-Plus, which was sold to Telefonica for €8.6bn. At the same time, it acquired the entirety of Reggefiber, a cable company it had a majority stake in.

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