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Rumoured takeover of Telekom Austria by Carlos Slim

Mexican billionaire ambitious for Telekom Austria ownership

By Maddy French

Control of Telekom Austria could soon be in the hands of Mexican businessman Carlos Slim as rumours spread over his ambition to put in a bid for majority ownership.

Billionaire Slim's telecommunications company America Movil already owns 26.8% of the Austrian company after Slim consolidated shares owned by his family foundation and his company earlier this year.

Now it's rumoured he is looking to gain a 30% stake which is the threshold needed in order to put a bid for majority ownership

"I expect Slim to make an offer for the majority of the company sooner or later," said one source familiar with the matter. "It could be in two weeks or six months."

Chief Executive of Telekoms Austria Hannes Ametsreiter has said that it has not been brought up in board conversations the company has with America Movil but that the two companies have had a good relationship from the start.

This is not the first attempt at claiming a bigger stake in the European telecommunications market. Slim has already tried and failed to gain a majority stake in Dutch company KPN last year and earlier in Telekoms Italia in 2007.

After the KPN incident, Slim is looking to work closer with the Austrian government, who currently own 28% of the shares, in discussions about gaining a majority stake in the company. The government have committed to maintaining the 25% share needed to as a blocking minority.

One avenue they could take would be to combine their respective shares, enabling the Austrian state to maintain some control of decisions made about the future of Telekom Austria. However this is said to only have had a lukewarm reception from American Movil, who have previously stated they have no plans for a hostile takeover of the company.

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