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Last updated: March 16, 2007 8:36 pm

Getronics shares climb on takeover speculation

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Shares in Getronics, the troubled Dutch information technology group, gained 5 per cent to €6.52 on Friday amid speculation that it was being prepared for a take-over by KPN, the Dutch telecommunications company.

De Telegraaf, the Dutch daily newspaper, reported that Getronics’ banks had instructed Maarten Henderson, the company’s new chief financial officer, to “clean up and facilitate a sale”. Getronics declined to comment.

Mr Henderson is a former KPN CFO. Ton Risseeuw, KPN chairman, is the former chairman of Getronics. Late last year the companies confirmed that they had held talks, which ultimately came to nothing. “We were exploring what synergies were possible,” KPN said on Friday.

While KPN said there was “no contact with Getronics at the moment”, it said some of Getronics’ operations would fit with its strategy of boosting data services – notably a business solutions division that supplies virtual private networks for corporate customers.

Analysts said KPN’s interest would be limited to Getronics’ Benelux activities and that the IT group would need to sell operations in the UK, US and Spain. Getronics has a market capitalisation of about €800m ($1.06bn).

Klaas Wagenaar, Getronics’ chief executive, remains under pressure. “He has not got many friends left,” said a senior banker.

In December Theo Janssen resigned as Getronics’ CFO. That came ahead of poor full-year results and followed a year of debt problems and divestments.

Mr Wagenaar came close to quitting himself in the wake of a book-keeping scandal that led to the resignation of two executives at Getronics’ Italian division.

Last month the company launched an investigation into a series of leaks of sensitive information that had fuelled negative publicity.

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