telecoms

Growing in Brazil has long been in the sights of Carlos Slim’s América Móvil. The company has almost as many subscribers there as in Mexico, where it is under regulatory pressure.

So teaming up with an existing carrier to buy the country’s No. 2 cellphone carrier might be a smart move.

According to Bloomberg, América Móvil is talking to Brazil’s Oi about teaming up to make a joint bid for the Brazilian operations of mobile operator TIM. 

Mexico’s Congress should this month pass legislation designed to give the country’s fixed and mobile phone users access to greater competition in a market dominated by Carlos Slim’s Telmex fixed-line company and Telcel mobile network.

Slim’s companies have 80 per cent of Mexico’s fixed-line market and 70 per cent of mobile, so the reform aims to boost consumer choice by giving rivals cheap access to his network in order to catch up – something that naturally has not gone down too well with Slim.

But is this so-called asymmetric regulation a bad thing? Will it boost competition? And will it boost investment? 

Latin America and the Caribbean have some catching up to do in the provision of broadband internet services, according to a score sheet compiled by the Inter-American Development Bank.

Broadband penetration is expected to grow quickly, at a compound annual growth rate of 11.9 per cent in the five years to 2015 across the region, but for now it compares poorly to OECD countries. 

By Tim Gosling of bne

PPF Group has sealed a deal to buy a majority stake in the Czech Republic’s largest mobile operator Telefonica CR from the Spanish telecommunications group. The November 5 agreement could put a dent in the Czech regulator’s hopes of encouraging greater competition on the market; it might also herald a new chapter in the emerging markets telecoms business, suggest analysts. 

América Móvil on Thursday became the latest company to sound a sour note on the Mexican economy after it reported a near 50 per cent drop in third-quarter profit.

The pan-American mobile phone operator controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim saw profit for the three months to September 30 collapse to 16.4bn pesos ($1.2bn), compared with 30.4bn pesos in the same period a year ago and well below market expectations of 25.6bn pesos. The reasons? Soaring financing costs, currency headwinds and losses incurred from its ill-timed investment in KPN, the ailing Dutch telecoms group it tried to take over this year. 

Foreign companies operating in Venezuela have to put up with no small amount of inconvenience. Aside from runaway inflation, which drives up operating costs, they also have to watch the money they make in the country depreciate because Venezuela’s tight capital controls mean they can’t easily repatriate it back home.

On Thursday, Movistar, a subsidiary of Spain’s Telefónica and the second-largest mobile carrier in the country, discovered yet another risk associated with working in Venezuela: price controls. 

By Hans-Holger Albrecht of Millicom

Africa invariably grabs the headlines whenever the mobile revolution is discussed. Commentators rightly point to the extraordinary rate at which mobile phones are being adopted and the impact the technology is having on lives and livelihood.

But while no one can doubt the transformation underway – or the innovation it is unleashing – it is a revolution still based largely on second-generation technology. If you want to see what the future holds for emerging markets, it is Latin America which holds more of the answers. 

Jon Fredrik Baksaas, chief executive of Telenor, Norway’s biggest telecoms group, talks to the FT’s Richard Milne about emerging market worries and EU regulation.

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just 11 days after América Móvil (AMX) ended a shareholder agreement with KPN that capped its stake in the Dutch phone carrier at about 30 per cent, the Mexican group controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim made its move.

With a great thud of cash hitting the table, Slim’s AMX on Friday announced a €7.2bn bid for the 70 per cent of KPN it does not already own. 

Get ready for some competition in Colombia Carlos Slim.

Millicom International, a Luxembourg-based telecoms company, on Monday announced plans to merge its Colombian operations with the fixed-line business of state-run Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) in a move to create “a leading digital lifestyle company” in the country. 

Mobile money services in Africa isn’t just all about M-Pesa in Kenya. Orange Mobile has just rolled out its first international mobile money transfer service between Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast – the first such service in the region.

But there are some big players offering similar, rival services. Can Orange make a difference? 

It’s possible that Carlos Slim has never downloaded an application into his mobile phone. He’s not known for his information technology prowess – he doesn’t even have a computer in his office. What he is known for is his business acumen.

His latest venture into music recognition app Shazam for $40m, through his multinational telecommunication company, América Móvil, is a case in point.

 

A lot of the leading innovations in payment systems are coming from the world’s more peripheral financial markets, a trend reinforced by a recent decision by six Polish banks to band together to create a mobile phone-based payment system.

The six, led by PKO BP, the country’s biggest bank, are setting up a joint venture that will allow clients with a special smartphone application to make payments debiting their bank accounts using one-time codes generated by the mobile phones. 

India’s Telecom Commission, a high level committee charged with formulating telecoms policy, has approved a proposal to increase the limit on foreign direct investment into mobile phone services to 100 per cent from a current level of 74 per cent. The proposed change would make it possible for service providers such as UK-based Vodafone and Russia’s Sistema, which operate in India with local partners, to buy those partners out.

But if other recent changes to rules on FDI are any guide, investment will not flood in overnight.