Slim's America Movil eyes European fixed-line telcos

Wed Aug 12, 2015 7:38pm EDT
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By Christine Murray and Tomás Sarmiento

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - America Movil is still sniffing out deals in Europe, which could become twice as important for the Mexican telecom company's revenue base within five years, its chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

Shares of America Movil, which is controlled by the family of billionaire Carlos Slim, are down more than 5 percent this year as it grapples with the prospect of competition from AT&T Inc, tough new regulation in its biggest market, Mexico, as well as likely recession in its second-largest market, Brazil.

But in Eastern Europe, where it already has a foothold through its subsidiary Telekom Austria, the outlook is brighter, and it was "feasible" the company could draw 15 percent of its revenue from Europe by 2020, CFO Carlos Garcia Moreno said in an interview.

Europe presently makes up just under 7 percent of revenue for Latin America's biggest telecom company.

Eastern Europe is similar to Latin America several years ago because people stopped investing in fixed-line networks when mobile took off, Garcia Moreno said. America Movil wants to repeat its success in Latin America, where it is by far the biggest operator, by investing more in fixed-line.

"In Eastern Europe you need to build a lot more, develop the fixed platform much more for the new phase of growth in mobile data services," he said. "In this process there are acquisitions that can be made."

He declined to say which companies America Movil would go after and noted assets on offer are scarce. Many opportunities to expand will instead come through organic growth, he said.

In the last 18 months, the company bought up cable companies in Bulgaria and Macedonia for undisclosed sums.   Continued...

America Movil's Chief Financial Officer Carlos Garcia Moreno smiles during an interview with Reuters at his office in Mexico City, Mexico August 12, 2015. REUTERS/Henry Romero