Carlos Slim's telecom giant America Movil will sell assets to avoid limits of Mexico reform

MEXICO CITY – The telecom company America Movil said Tuesday that it will sell off some assets to reduce its market share in Mexico in the face of the country’s telecommunications reform designed to break up monopolies.

The company of magnate Carlos Slim said its board of directors has agreed to sell enough assets to put the company at less than 50 per cent of the market. America Movil controls about 70 per cent of the mobile and about 80 per cent of fixed telephone markets in Mexico.

America Movil, which is a leading cellphone service provider in Latin America, did not specify which assets would be sold or to whom.

The announcement came as Mexican lawmakers prepare to vote on laws to implement the reform, which seeks to promote competition in both telecommunications and broadcasting. Analysts have said the reform as written will have the biggest impact on the holdings of Slim, who is one of the world’s richest men.

Under the constitutional changes, passed more than a year ago, the Federal Telecommunications Institute in March declared America Movil “dominant,” with more than 50 per cent of the market, imposing a number of restrictions to diminish its power.

With the sell-off, the company expects to no longer be considered “dominant” and can avoid measures that would require it to share infrastructure with competitors, adjust rates or eliminate fees for telephone calls inside the country. It also would allow America Movil to gain access to pay television in Mexico, which the company has long sought.

Laws implementing the reform passed the Senate over the weekend and are now in the Chamber of Deputies. They propose, among other things, the elimination of long distance rates, regulation of advertising on radio and television, and fines of up to 10 per cent of revenue for companies in violation.