ZON now in play?

Shareholders at Portuguese pay-TV provider ZON Multimedia have approved the lifting of voting rights beyond a current 10 per cent limit. The approval of the measure opens the way for shareholders to raise their stakes in the company, with mobile cellco Sonaecom touted as a potential suitor.

Banks Caixa Geral de Depositos and Banco Espirito Santo, which ZON says own 10.9 per cent and 2 per cent respectively, are being pressed to sell assets to raise capital ratios under Portugal’s bailout programme. State-owned Caixa should sell all non-core assets, according to the plan.

Kento Holding, controlled by Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s president, owns 10 per cent of ZON, and is the most likely buyer of additional shares. Acquiring the banks’ stakes would leave Kento well placed to combine Zon with another company.

ZON rose as much as 1.6 per cent to €2.60 and was up 1.3 per cent at 12:05 p.m. in Lisbon. The stock has risen 12 per cent, giving the company a market value of €800.3 million. Sonaecom, which controls Portugal’s smallest cellco, has been seen as a possible suitor in local press reports since the company acknowledged “contacts” with ZON in 2009. Sonaecom has climbed 3.4 per cent during 2012 for a market value of €460 million. Shares gained 0.8 per cent to €1.26.

Spain’s Telefónica, which owns 5.5 per cent of ZON, could also sell its holding. The telco admitted November 2011 that it was looking to divest underperforming assets and operations outside its main businesses to reduce debt.

ZON was spun off from Portugal Telecom following Sonaecom’s failed bid for the former national phone-operating monopoly. Investors in Portugal Telecom received ZON shares.

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