The Wall Street Journal speculated over the weekend that Carlos Slim and his company America Movil might make a big move north of the border. And of course in the US mobile market, there is only one target getting that sort of attention – T-Mobile USA. Just what the US telecommunications markets need: another foreign billionaire?
Slim is apparently planning to bow to the demands of Mexican regulators by selling off assets in Mexico to bring the company’s marketshare below 50%, a move which will also coincidentally give him a lot of cash to play with. AMX has already been busy over in Europe, and is in the process of taking over Austria’s incumbent after getting rebuffed by the Dutch last year. I do think any additional resources are likely to be redeployed wherever he sees bargains.
Frankly though, I rather doubt he’ll take a meaningful swing at T-Mobile USA. Although Slim owns Tracfone in the US market, his purchase habits of late haven’t been to buy #4 to be a challenger with a lot of work to do to catch up. Rather, he seems partial to the mobile assets of incumbents – KPN, Telekom Austria – at the moment anyway.
US regulators would surely love to have him try though, as they have been decidedly cool about the prospect of Masayoshi Son’s and Softbank’s efforts to merge T-Mobile with Sprint. I just don’t think he’d be willing to pay the sort of price Deutsche Telekom would be asking for. The synergies wouldn’t be there to justify the price, and I hate to say it but it’s not at all clear if adding a Mexican flavor to the insurgency of the ‘Uncarrier’ would be a good marketing idea given today’s contentious political/immigration climate.
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