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Old 11-10-2014, 01:14 AM   #1
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Arrow AT&T to Buy Mexican Wireless Provider Iusacell for $2.5 Billion..

AT&T agreed on Friday to buy Iusacell, one of Mexico’s biggest cellphone service providers, for $2.5 billion including debt, as it seeks to expand its international presence by moving southward.

The deal comes five months after AT&T sold its stake in América Móvil, Mexico’s biggest phone company, after agreeing to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion. The American company later acknowledged that it would begin competing directly against its onetime partner.

Now it will do so by buying Iusacell, which claims about 8.6 million customers across 70 percent of Mexico. Work on the transaction began in earnest shortly after the sale of the América Móvil stake. Grupo Salinas, which is set to acquire the 50 percent of Iusacell that it doesn’t already own, realized that upgrading the phone carrier’s network to faster wireless data speeds would require an enormous amount of investments.

For AT&T, the move fit into a strategy that it has articulated for more than two years: diversifying its revenue by moving into foreign markets.

“We just think over the long haul that the global telecommunications marketplace will continue to scale,” John Stankey, AT&T’s chief strategy officer, said in a telephone interview.

Though it had considered making a big incursion into Europe — Vodafone of Britain was long rumored to be a potential takeover target — the company has since turned its eye toward Mexico and other Latin American countries. Among the factors making Mexico in particular more attractive are efforts by its president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to encourage more investment in the telecommunications industry.

Over time, AT&T will explore the potential bundling of phone and pay TV services in Mexico, Mr. Stankey said. But for now the carrier is focused on offering phone and high-speed wireless data services.

Friday’s deal is contingent on Salinas closing on its acquisition of full control of Iusacell from its partner in the business, Grupo Televisa, for $717 million. AT&T reckons that means its transaction will close in the first three months of next year, pending approval by Mexico’s telecom regulator.
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