The Belgian government is working to amend laws to make it possible to sell its stake in Proximus, the country’s largest operator, which could yield €6 billion, although the state may maintain a minimum interest, according to reports.
Currently, the law dictates that the government must hold a 50 per cent stake plus one share in the company.
While the new legislation is not directly related to Dutch incumbent KPN’s recent expression of interest in a merger – it will apply to national postal operator Bpost as well – KPN CEO Eelco Blok told Het Financieele Dagblad that Proximus is a “logical candidate to form an alliance with”, a potential merger that had first been discussed 15 years ago.
However, Blok did add that because it is majority state-owned and not all recent mergers of Dutch and Belgian companies have been successful, he does not expect a deal with Belgacom to happen any time soon.
Speaking about joining another European group, he said: “If I can rationalise it to myself, the customers and employees, I have no problem with it.”
“We have to be realistic and not just think about today, but also how the company will serve customers 5-10 years from now,” he added.
Last month, KPN sold Base, its Belgian mobile unit, for €1.33 billion to Telenet Global Holding. This would make a merger easier because KPN is no longer a competitor in Proximus’ home market.
At the time of the Base sale, KPN said it would “fully focus on its successful integrated access strategy in the Netherlands”.
Proximus is the largest of Belgium’s operators, with around 40 per cent market share, followed by Mobistar (35 per cent) and Base (25 per cent).