Billionaire Slim’s Europe Plans On Hold As Kpn Talks End

Credit: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay FRANKFURT | Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:32am EDT FRANKFURT (Reuters) – A surge in UK auto sales and an extra working day boosted Europe’s new car market in September, giving evidence that demand may be slowly bottoming out after plumbing lows not seen in over 20 years. The European car market has been a prime casualty of the continent’s economic crisis as hard-pressed consumers defer purchases and a number of leading makers such as Peugeot (PEUP.PA) have been forced into radical restructurings. Automotive industry association ACEA said on Wednesday new car registrations in the European Union climbed 5.4 percent from a year ago to 1.16 million vehicles in September, only the third monthly gain in the past two years. The figures echo findings earlier this month that sales of new cars had grown in France and Spain during September. ACEA’s numbers showed the improvement was led by a 12 percent rise in sales in top market Britain to 403,000 vehicles, while sales in Germany shrank 1.2 pct to 247,000. The monthly total was still the second-lowest September figure since ACEA began gathering data for the 27 EU member states in 2003. Industry watchers have been looking for signs of recovery after the EU car market crashed to record lows in August. “The worst is behind us. The decline in sales has considerably slowed and we are now witnessing signs of recovery in demand,” said Peter Fuss, senior advisory partner at the Global Automotive Centre of accountants EY (formerly Ernst & Young). “The sales, however, continue to be artificially boosted by huge discounts and self-registrations by dealers,” Fuss added, referring to cars still held in showrooms. He warned it would take at least two years before the market was strong enough to grow on its own without the aid of incentives. BETTER GAUGE In a sign of recovery in the ailing euro zone periphery, car demand in Greece, Ireland and Portugal jumped by double-digit rates, albeit from depressed levels. For the first nine months of the year as a whole, ACEA said registrations in Europe still fell 4 percent from the year before to 9.33 million, on the back of weak demand in Germany, Italy and France – and in the Netherlands, where sales have plummeted 29 percent year-to-date. September volumes may be a better gauge of underlying trends than August, since the latter’s results are artificially depressed given many European car buyers are on holiday. It is also a crucial month for the UK market, since it accounts for about 18 percent of annual volumes.

`Tough Ride

debt default and bring an end to the government shutdown. European equities closed higher on Wednesday, paring earlier losses, as investors bet on an imminent deal in Washington to avert a U.S. debt default and bring an end to the government shutdown. IBEX 35 — The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed up 0.1 percent, taking its lead from U.S. averages, which moved higher after Reuters reported that Senate negotiators were “very close” to announcing a deal . The Senate is likely to move “quickly” to pass the fiscal debt deal currently being negotiated, according to a Senate aide. Senate leaders are in talks with House leaders to find a way to win fast passage of the deal in both chambers. The New York Times reported that the deal is likely to be announced by midday, citing Senate aides. After the closing bell on Tuesday, Fitch credit rating agency placed the United States’ triple-A rating on “rating watch negative”, citing the debt ceiling gridlock. Italy announces budget In European news, the U.K’s jobless rate a key factor influencing the Bank of England’s interest rate policy held steady in the three months to August, but the number of people claiming unemployment benefits fell much more than expected. (Read More: UK unemployment steady but claimant count plummets ) Inflationary pressures in the euro zone continued to ease, data showed on Wednesday. Consumer price inflation for the 17 countries that use the single currency fell to 1.1 percent (year-on-year) in September, its lowest since February 2010, according to Eurostat. Car registrations in Europe posted a 5.4 percent (year-on-year) rise in September, highlighting a recovery in the continent, with impressive demand growth from southern European nations like Greece and Spain. (Read More: Southern Europe helps car registrations post recovery ) Italy’s government unveiled its 2014 budget law on Tuesday , in which it lowered the tax rate on labor.

Europe stocks close higher on hopes of US deal

A move elsewhere in Europe , such as an increase in his stake in Telekom Austria AG (TKA) , would also help him achieve his goal of expanding America Movil beyond Latin America . We probably expect them to increase their stake in another European operator, and the natural option would be Telekom Austria , said Carlos de Legarreta, an analyst at Corporativo GBM SAB in Mexico City. Europe is an attractive market, even if its being pressured by the slowing macro-economy. They are mature markets with a good return. Ziggo Takeover? Europes economic struggles have lured investors such as Slim and billionaire Li Ka-shing to hunt for bargains in the phone industry, where growing competition and tight regulation have squeezed profit margins. AT&T Inc., which owns 9 percent of America Movil, has also eyed investments in Europe, saying the continent is on the cusp of a boom in demand for high-speed wireless Internet service . KPN rival Ziggo NV (ZIGGO) has also deflected a foreign takeover attempt. The cable-television company, based in Ultrecht, Netherlands , said yesterday that shareholder Liberty Global Plc (LBTYA) made an inadequate offer for the rest of its shares, and its uncertain whether it will receive an improved bid. America Movil hasnt made a decision on what to do with its KPN stake and will study Dutch regulations to determine if its options are limited because of its withdrawn tender offer, said Arturo Elias , Slims spokesman. The company didnt drop its KPN bid to pursue another offer, and the decision isnt a negotiating ploy with KPN, he said. Our position is firm and serious, he said in a phone interview. Numerous Discussions In a statement, KPN said America Movils offer undervalued the company and didnt do enough to protect minority shareholders. The KPN boards werent able during their numerous discussions to obtain an acceptable proposal on the content, firmness, duration and enforceability of America Movils commitments to KPNs stakeholders, the company said. Speaking on a conference call today, Chief Executive Officer Eelco Blok wouldt comment on the price KPN was seeking during negotiations. There is of course a possibility that well get back at the table again, he said.