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Televisa Accepts Antitrust Conditions on Stake in Iusacell

MEXICO CITY -(Dow Jones)- Grupo Televisa SAB (TV, TLEVISA.MX) said Monday it has accepted conditions imposed by Mexican antitrust regulators to take a 50% stake in mobile phone operator Iusacell. The Mexican media company is looking to bolster its telecommunications business by adding wireless to its existing cable, phone and Internet services. The Federal Competition Commission, or CFC, last week set a number of conditions for Televisa to convert its $1.6 billion investment in Iusacell to shares, most of them regarding the television industry since Iusacell is owned by the controlling shareholder of the country's No. 2 broadcaster, TV Azteca SAB (AZTECA.MX). The CFC had initially rejected the joint venture outright on concerns about potential collusion in the television market, despite welcoming the idea of greater competition in mobile telephony. Televisa appealed that decision. Televisa made the investment in Iusacell last year via low-interest notes. The company said in a filing with the Mexican stock exchange that it accepted the conditions set by the CFC and converted the notes into shares of Iusacell holding company GSF Telecom Holdings, of which it now holds 50%. The Televisa investment has shored up the financial position of Iusacell, one of Mexico's smaller wireless phone operators, as it seeks to chip away at the 70% market share of Telcel, the local mobile unit of billionaire Carlos Slim's telecommunications giant America Movil SAB (AMX, AMX.MX). Last week, Iusacell joined forces in a network-sharing alliance with Mexico's second largest mobile phone company Telefonica SA (TEF.MC, TEF), which operates in Mexico under the Movistar brand with about a 22% market share by subscribers. The alliance seeks to make more efficient use of the companies' network investments, as well as improve coverage and quality. Televisa is Mexico's biggest television company, with four free-to-air broadcast channels, the largest of the two satellite television services, and three cable units which offer TV, phone and Internet, or "triple-play" service. Write to Anthony Harrup at [email protected]

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