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Germany's Mobile M&A

Ray Le Maistre
3/27/2008

9:30 AM -- There's a flurry of M&A activity in the German mobile market, with reports of two potential acquisitions.

First up, a Reuters report published by The Guardian says German service provider Freenet AG wants to buy debitel AG (DE: DBLG), a German mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that has more than 13 million subscribers.

Freenet plans to buy about 75 percent of the mobile player from private equity firm Permira in a deal with an unconfirmed value of up to €1.5 billion ($2.36 billion).

Freenet plans to pay in cash, part of which could come from the sale of its DSL business, which has about 1.3 million customers (a 7 percent market share). That business is valued at up to €700 million ($1.1 billion), and could attract the interest of Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF).

At the same time, Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) is acquiring another German MVNO, Blau Mobilfunk, which resells services provided by KPN's German mobile operation, E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH . No price has been announced, though the Financial Times Deutschland has suggested the price could be up to €100 million ($157 million).

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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