Versatel’s share price rose by 19% last Friday and a further 18% yesterday after the company confirmed it was in talks with Belgian national PTO Belgacom that could ultimately lead to a takeover of the Dutch telco. A spokesman for Versatel said the company was holding preliminary discussions ‘regarding a possible strategic cooperation’, including a possible takeover by the Belgians. Belgacom has been looking to expand internationally and recently lost out to Telefónica in the race to acquire assets of Cesky Telecom. Versatel was formed in the 1990s as an alternative operator to KPN and narrowly avoided bankruptcy in 2001. Its recent history has been chequered: it posted a net loss of EUR24.4 million in 2004, but in the same year acquired the rights to broadcast Dutch premier league football – a potential cash cow and a significant shift in a country where cable has long dominated the delivery of top flight matches.
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