March 6, 2017 / 7:15 AM / 7 months ago

De Mol keeps up bidding war over Netherlands' Telegraaf

AMSTERDAM, March 6 (Reuters) - Dutch tycoon John de Mol again raised his offer for the Netherlands’ Telegraaf Media Group late on Sunday, as a bidding war with a consortium led by Belgium’s Mediahuis over the asset entered a fourth month.

De Mol increased his offer to 6.50 euros ($6.89) per share, or around 300 million euros, from an earlier 6.35 euros per share, his investment vehicle Talpa Holding said in a statement.

De Mol’s offer is 8.3 percent above a 6.00 euros bid that Mediahuis and TMG’s supervisory board agreed upon earlier on Sunday.

Although De Mol’s bid is higher, the Mediahuis bid enjoys an apparently insurmountable advantage: its members collectively already hold a 60 percent stake in the target, notably via the Van Puijenbroek family, which has held shares in De Telegraaf since the 1950s.

De Mol has built a rival 21 percent stake in TMG via Talpa, potentially setting the stage for a legal fight over TMG. TMG publishes the top-selling Dutch daily newspaper de Telegraaf, as well as a popular celebrity magazine, Prive.

Mediahuis owns another major Dutch newspaper, NRC Handelsblad, while Talpa owns 33 percent in television broadcaster SNS and several leading Dutch radio stations.

In a statement late Sunday TMG’s supervisory board said it was “suspending” CEO Geert Jan van der Snoek and CFO Leo Epskamp because they had been “insufficiently constructive and realistic” toward the Mediahuis bid in the final phase of negotiations.

Van der Snoek was seen as a supporter of the Talpa bid, newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad reported on Monday.

The TMG board, led by chairman Jan Nooitgedagt, will lead talks while Van der Snoek and Epskamp have been placed on temporary leave from the company, TMG said, citing the Dutch corporate code that enables the supervisory board to carry out such an action. ($1 = 0.9433 euros) (Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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