Xavier Niel, the owner of the French newspaper Le Monde, takes a 6 percent stake in Proximus via the Irish Carraun. It hopes for a strategic collaboration.
The Belgian telecom operator Proximus will have a new major shareholder. The Irish Carraun has purchased 6 percent of the shares. After the Belgian State, it will be the company’s largest shareholder, which owns 53.5 percent of the shares. Proximus itself has another 4.62 percent. The government therefore has a large majority and Carraun cannot buy the company through a hostile takeover.
Carraun may have bought his interest through purchases on the stock exchange. This allowed it to remain under the radar for a long time. The company is controlled by French telecom entrepreneur Xavier Niel. In addition to telecom interests and investments in start-ups throughout Europe, he is a co-shareholder in the newspaper Le Monde. Niel is married to Delphine Arnault, the daughter of Europe’s richest entrepreneur, Bernard Arnault.
Niel’s investment vehicle Carraun primarily owns Eir, the largest Irish telecom operator with 2 million customers. The challenges for the sector are the same almost everywhere with the rollout of fiber optic and 5G networks. In a press release, Carraun underlines Proximus’ knowledge and experience in the telecom sector. ‘Mr. Niel is constantly looking to strengthen his European presence and he sees Proximus as a very attractive long-term investment.’
Carraun also reports that Proximus’ current management supports and hopes that Eir and Proximus can work together. “It would be an honor if, as a long-term partner, we could contribute to the future evolution of Proximus,” he says at the end of the press release. Until further notice, the Belgian State does not intend to sell or reduce its controlling interest in Proximus. If a next government were to do so, Niel seems to be in pole position to increase his importance.
The Proximus share gained 6 percent after the announcement of the news.