Rumours resurfaced about a potential buyout of Dutch telecoms giant KPN, with a pair of private equity companies reportedly teaming up to start work on a bid valuing the operator at more than $15 billion.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported New York-based Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners and Swedish investment company EQT plan to put forward a proposal offering €3 per share for KPN, with due diligence set to get underway.

KPN shares were valued at €2.88 at the last close in Europe.

EQT’s interest in KPN is not new: Bloomberg reported in October 2020 the company was assessing a bid for the operator, however no formal approach materialised.

KPN has attracted several suitors over the years, with its largest shareholder America Movil attempting to acquire the company in 2013, although the deal was blocked by an independent panel designed to protect the company from unwanted takeovers.

In 2019 reports investment company Brookfield Asset Management was contemplating a deal emerged.

KPN operates mobile, fixed-line and TV services in the Netherlands, but has faced increased competition in recent years from VodafoneZiggo, a joint venture of Liberty Global and Vodafone Group.

WSJ sources added Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners and EQT could also team with another partner on the bid.

A takeover is likely to face resistance from the Dutch government, with KPN’s networks classified as critical to national safety the state has the right to veto any approaches under a new law put into force in 2020.