By Joy K Gallup of Paul Hastings
The transformation of Mexico’s telecoms sector has begun. Reforms enacted in 2013 promise to transform the investment opportunities and market dynamics of the sector and have already had a major influence, managing the current market dominance of América Móvil through the regulatory actions of IFETEL and opening the sector to foreign investment. In the past few months we have seen fines and other regulatory decisions taken against the dominant players, including América Móvil’s subsidiaries Telmex (which controls 80 per cent of Mexico’s fixed-line telephone market) and Telcel (which controls 70 per cent of its mobile phone market). In recent days, AT&T completed the purchase of Mexico’s third-largest wireless company Iusacell for $2.5bn from Grupo Salinas, and announced an agreement to buy Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings for $1.8 bn (expected to close mid-year). So, what do these reforms mean for the future of the smaller telco companies in Mexico, such as Axtel, Alestra and Maxcom? Read more
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. Read more
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? Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
India’s policy makers have dealt a surprise one-two, as they attempt to stem the depreciation of the rupee, finance the country’s unsustainable current account deficit and prop up the economy all at once.
The Reserve Bank of India announced a slew of monetary tightening measures on Monday that immediately propped up the rupee but raised concerns around their impact on India’s already slowing economy. Another announcement late on Tuesday provided a counterweight, as limits on foreign direct investment were further relaxed.
But are these reforms all they’re cracked up to be? Read more
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? Read more
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. Read more
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. Read more
Diego Molano, Colombia’s minister of information technologies and communications, called it, “the auction of the decade”.
And what an auction it was. In what is probably one of the largest auctions in the ICT sector in recent years in Latin America, Colombia raised COP$770.5bn ($400m) from the sale of 4G licences to five companies this week. Read more
The decision by Myanmar’s government to award two fiercely contested national mobile communications licenses to Qatar’s Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor Mobile Communications on Thursday raised as many questions as answers among Yangon-based analysts – not least due to an eleventh-hour effort by the country’s parliament to block news of the winning bids.
At the same time, conclusion of the contest reassured a growing number of investors eyeing Myanmar that the country is capable of conducting a transparent, fair and efficient public tender. Read more
By Ben Aris of bne
Russian mobile phone operators just launched their first 4G networks and the biggest cities are due to be covered by the end of this year. The move to better technology has opened a new world of opportunity for Russian Towers, the country’s first, and to date only, independent company leasing out mobile phone base stations to what are now the biggest operators in Europe. Read more
Companies from Norway and Qatar have won the race for telecommunications licences in Myanmar, which foreign investors view as one of the final frontiers of mobile communications, as FastFT reports.
Groups led by Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo, the renamed Qatar Telecom, beat big name bidders including France Telecom and a consortium involving Digicel and George Soros to the licences, according to a statement from the government on Thursday. Read more