Bloomberg News

Mexico Probes TV-Phone Deals as Televisa Seeks Mobile Entry

December 16, 2011

(Updates with closing share prices in final paragraph.)

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s antitrust agency started an investigation into agreements between phone carriers and TV programming providers, a sign that Grupo Televisa SAB’s bid to enter the wireless industry is facing more scrutiny.

Deals between fixed-line phone, wireless, Internet, broadcast and pay-TV providers could represent prohibited concentrations of market power, the antitrust agency said in today’s edition of the nation’s official gazette. It didn’t name any of the companies it would examine in the probe. An official who can’t be identified under the agency’s policy declined to provide specifics.

Televisa, the world’s largest Spanish-language broadcaster, is awaiting antitrust approval for a $1.6 billion deal to acquire 50 percent of Grupo Iusacell SA, Mexico’s third-biggest wireless carrier. Televisa aims to add wireless service to its home-phone, cable-TV and Internet plans to compete against billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB.

“It’s something the regulators are taking a closer look at than I would’ve originally expected,” said Christopher King, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Baltimore. “Clearly they’re interested in examining what this could mean for the competition in the future and whether significant conditions need to be imposed.” He advises holding America Movil shares and doesn’t have a rating on Televisa.

Iusacell is closely held by billionaire Ricardo Salinas, who also controls TV Azteca SAB, Televisa’s closest competitor in Mexico’s broadcast television market.

Officials at Iusacell and Televisa who can’t be identified under their companies’ policies didn’t have immediate comments.

Televisa rose 0.7 percent to 56.77 pesos at the close in Mexico City. Azteca gained 0.1 percent to 8.44 pesos, and America Movil slid 0.2 percent to 15.46 pesos. All three companies are based in Mexico City.

--Editors: Cecile Daurat, Niamh Ring

To contact the reporter on this story: Crayton Harrison in Mexico City at tharrison5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net


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