Televisa, Cablemas decision seen soon

MEXICO CITY Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:49pm EDT

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's anti-trust watchdog expects to decide on broadcaster Televisa's planned acquisition of Cablemas, one of the country's biggest cable companies, in no more than four weeks.

"It should not take us a long time. We are talking of no more than a month," Eduardo Perez Motta, head of Mexico's Federal Competition Commission, told the Reuters Latin America Investment Summit on Monday.

Televisa has an option to buy a 49 percent stake in Cablemas, but it has to meet a number of requirements, including sharing its content with smaller regional competitors, if it wants the go-ahead from competition authorities.

Televisa (TV.N) (TLVACPO.MX) has been expanding from its core broadcasting business in a bid to grow its revenue base. It has its eyes on the "triple play" market, which allows companies to provide cable television, phone services and the Internet through one single broadband link.

The company, the world's leading producer of Spanish-language content, had previously bought another cable company based in the northern city of Monterrey, TVI. Televisa's Cablevision cable unit only operates in the Mexico City area.

Perez Motta said his team has held regular meetings with Televisa for nearly a year in the hope of reaching a final decision in a market that lacks solid regulation.

"HEADACHE"

"What did we have to do? Well, ask Televisa that if it wanted to tap this market it had to offer content on a nondiscriminatory basis," he said.

"There is no law in Mexico that breaks down how to regulate contents. That's why we gave so much weight to content and it has been a headache."

Phone service through broadband networks could be a very lucrative venture for Televisa, but it would mean tapping a market led by business partner Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) TMX.N TELMEXL.MX, owned by tycoon Carlos Slim, the world's second-richest man.

Televisa owner Emilio Azcarraga Jean recently told Spanish media that he could consider a partnership with Telefonica (TEF.MC), Slim's nemesis in the cellular phone market across Latin America.

Additionally, Televisa has said it is interested in WiMax, a technology that could enable the broadcaster to expand its broadband reach and even offer mobile services.

Televisa shares slipped 0.21 percent to close at 51.80 pesos on Monday, while its New York-traded stock fell 0.12 percent to $24.24.

(Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

(For the summit blog: summitnotebook.reuters.com/)

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