"KPN Mobile on Tuesday clinched a five billion euro ($4.5 billion) deal with Japanese cellphone giant NTT Docomo , but shares tumbled as investors questioned whether the two could take on Europe's heavyweights.
"In its first European investment, NTT Docomo is taking a 15 percent stake in the mobile phone business of KPN Telecom just four days after the Dutch group abanoned parallel merger talks with Spain's Telefonica .
"Although NTT Docomo is Japan's biggest company by market capitalisation and has a reputation for innovation with high tech mobile Internet phones, shares in KPN became one of the biggest blue-chip casualties in Europe. They ended 6.86 percent lower at 111.30 euros.
``Strategically it's a good deal -- in terms of knowledge and financial back up,'' said Stroeve Effectenbank analyst Alan van der Kamp. ``But it's not the deal the market had expected, yielding cost savings or strengthening KPN's European expansion, bringing together their networks, as Telefonica would.''
"In collaboration with U.S. partner BellSouth (NYSE:BLS - news), KPN Mobile hopes the deal will boost its chances of winning an expected auction battle for British cellphone group Orange, which Vodafone AirTouch Plc (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: VOD.L) will divest in the third quarter.
``We have stated our interest in Orange and this is shared by Docomo and (U.S. partner) BellSouth...and we have now become much more attractive to Orange,'' said International Affairs Executive and board member Joop Drechsel.
"Clinching a big partner should also boost KPN Mobile's chances of winning costly third generation mobile phone licences, which are being put up for grabs across Europe.
"... NTT Docomo, which said it will use KPN Mobile to expand in Europe, is known for its advanced i-mode mobile phone internet platform and is expected to be the first worldwide to work with Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems (UMTS) technology in 2001.