Sunday, March 20, 2011

Acquisition targets in the Netherlands

It's deal time. And what could that mean for the Netherlands? A short summary:
  • International operators could do a little portfolio management and decide they don't need an NL asset: Deutsche Telekom (perhaps increasingly likely now), Liberty Global, Vodafone and most of all Tele2, which requires from its operations an ability to be a Top 2 (hence the name) player. Of course business providers such as BT, Verizon, AT&T, Orange are in a different game, as are Colt, Easynet (private equity owned).
  • Private equity investments: Ziggo (possibly heading for an IPO) and CanalDigitaal (could be attractive to any challenger on the TV market: KPN, Tele2, possibly T-Mobile or Vodafone).
  • Cable providers: CIF focuses on passive network assets, but has a majority stake in CAIW. How about an IPO for this multi-MSO service provider? And then there are 20+ MSOs, in which CIF is presumably interested, but Ziggo and UPC as well. And perhaps even Reggefiber.
  • Fiber assets: OBR (Rotterdam) and LomboXnet (Utrecht) could be targets for Reggefiber or CIF. Reggefiber itself has only one way to go: to KPN.
  • Other: Scarlet (owned by Belgacom), Solcon (privately owned) and a long list of newcomers on the FTTH market.
KPN, the hoovering company, is a little unclear in its strategy right now. Under CEO Ad Scheepbouwer it has acquired someting like 40 companies (most importantly: Telfort, Getronics, Tiscali NL, iBasis). Recently, focus was moved from ISPs to MVNOs, but also Atlantic Telecom (business services) and NL-ix (Internet exchange). In the meantime, several assets were sold: fiber and business in Belgium, fiber in Germany, towers in the Netherlands. All quite helpful in reaching the free cash flow target.

So what could be next for KPN:
  • Sell E-Plus and Base, by the same logic that DT sells T-Mobile USA: there is a step change coming for the roll-out of LTE.
  • Sell more passive network assets. CIF is dying to buy them.
  • Sell Getronics. Sort of a u-turn, but perhaps focus is moving to network assets (but not passive assets).
  • Buy WiFi assets.
  • Buy more MVNOs, esp. those focused on the business market.
  • Buy CanalDigitaal (see above).
  • Buy out Reggeborgh from Reggefiber.
To round off: one type of asset is out of reach of KPN: cooperatives. This could be the way forward on the FTTH market, but in light of the above (NL-ix), it implies that Ams-IX may be a desirable target, but cannot be folded into KPN.

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