Mexican telephone tycoon Carlos Slim's America Movil is planning to enter the television business, company officials said Wednesday, one day after the country's legislature approved sweeping telecoms reform.
Slim is eyeing paid television service as the next move for the company, said Arturo Elias Ayub, the company's spokesman and the magnate's son-in-law.
"We want to offer our clients that famous 'Triple Play' service," said Ayub, referring to the trifecta of phone, Internet and television service offered by some communications companies in the United States and elsewhere.
On Tuesday, America Movil announced it would slash its majority share of the Mexican telephone market to below 50 percent, and that it would cease being the "dominant economic force" in that sector.
That move came just minutes after passage by the legislature of an ambitious telecoms reform designed to trim the power of telephone and TV monopolies.
New opportunities created by America Movil's partial sell-off already were being seized upon by its competitors, including the Mexican affiliate of Spain's Telefonica, which said it was looking forward to "deepening its participation" in Mexican telecoms.
The reforms "will allow the transformation of the market into one that is more competitive and which encourages investment," the company said in a statement.
The Spanish company said its Movistar phone service carrier currently controls 19 percent of Mexico's cell phone market, a fraction of the share controled by Slim's America Movil.
America Movil includes the fixed line company Telmex and mobile phone carrier Telcel. At present, the former controls 80 percent of its market and the latter 70 percent.
America Movil said in a statement Tuesday it would sell assets to a "new operator," which it did not identify.
The company has 292 million cell phone users in 26 countries, nearly 74 million of them in Mexico.
Slim, America Movil's billionaire founder from a family of Lebanese immigrants, figures regularly on a list of the world's richest men.
He ranked number two after Bill Gates on Forbes magazine's most recent wealth survey this year, with family assets of $76.1 billon.
America Movil, also known by its stock symbol AMX, recently has focused on transactions in Europe.
In May, it offered to buy the 45 percent of Telekom Austria not owned by America Movil or its partner, the Austrian government holding company OeIAG.
The pan-American wireless giant has also struck a deal to combine its 26.8 percent stake in Telekom Austria with the 28.4 percent held by OeIAG, giving it effective control.
Slim was forced to abandon in October a multibillion-euro hostile takeover bid for KPN, one of the largest fixed and mobile telecom operators in the Netherlands and the third-biggest in Germany and Belgium.