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Swedish telecommunications group Tele2 on Monday unveiled a €1.34bn ($1.61bn) agreed offer for Versatel, ending months of takeover speculation surrounding the Dutch carrier.

Versatel shares added 13.5 per cent to €2.19 on the back of the €2.20 per share cash offer, which is is supported by TV tycoon John de Mol, its biggest shareholder.

Tele2, which is offering a 14 per cent premium to Versatel's share price on Friday will also sell the Dutch company's German unit to UK private equity group Apax Partners for €565m on completing the deal. The offer is 47 per cent above the price on April 28 when news broke that Versatel was in talks with Belgium's Belgacom.

The price was seen as low by some analysts, but Peter Paul de Vries, of Dutch shareholders association VEB, said it reflected risks in Versatel's strategy, which relies on the success of a move into pay-TV.

Tele2 was talking to Versatel before the discussions with Belgacom and Mr de Mol's Talpa Capital, which owns 42 per cent of Versatel, went exclusive in May, according to a person close to the matter.

The Swedes re-opened negotiations in mid-June when the Belgacom talks, aimed at engineering a strategic joint venture, collapsed, with Talpa and Versatel complaining that the process had been frustratingly slow.

Thomas Notermans, a spokesman for Mr de Mol, said Talpa was “thrilled” by yesterday's deal. Mr de Mol, the creator of the Big Brother TV programmes, is expected to cement a deal with Tele2 to distribute content from his company Talpa Media, once the deal is done.

Talpa's support is key to the deal's success, deterring potential counter-bids, analysts said. KPN, the Dutch phone company, has been mentioned as a potential rival, but is understood to have already talked with Versatel and instead chosen to buy Telfort, a Dutch mobile company, for €980m. Tele2 will double its Dutch and Belgian sales to €800m, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of €112m, based on 2004 numbers. It will fund the deal from existing cash and bank facilities.

Lars-Johan Jarnheimer, Tele2 chief executive, said: “We are present in all EU countries except Malta, Cyprus and Greece and think there is more to do in existing markets than by entering new markets.”

Synergies will total €50m annually. Tele2 will also gain access to 67,000 corporate customers and will have more than 2.6m residential customers in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Tele2 was advised by Morgan Stanley, Apax by ABN Amro, and Versatel by Lazard.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

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