America Movil eyes new acquisition zones

MEXICO CITY Thu Apr 3, 2008 7:43pm EDT

Director of finance of America Movil Carlos Garcia Moreno speaks at the Reuters Summit in Mexico City April 3, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar

Director of finance of America Movil Carlos Garcia Moreno speaks at the Reuters Summit in Mexico City April 3, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Daniel Aguilar

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's America Movil, the largest cell phone operator in Latin America, is "open" to acquisitions and buying operating licenses outside its core region, said Chief Financial Officer Carlos Garcia-Moreno.

America Movil(AMX.N)(AMXL.MX), controlled by billionaire tycoon Carlos Slim, is also "very confident" about picking up 20 million new subscribers this year despite economic doubts in the region because of the U.S. slowdown, said Garcia-Moreno.

"We are open to going to other regions outside the Americas and I believe we have sufficient funds, sufficient expertise and sufficient size to successfully move into other regions," he told the Latin America Investment Summit on Thursday.

"But even though this is what we feel, and at some stage we could even really have the desire to do so, the fact is that we are in no rush to do so either," he said. "We have to see when there are opportunities that make sense."

America Movil has so far tried and failed to branch outside its core region. It lost a race to buy Telecom Italia last year and has not been able to break into the Spanish telecoms market, the home of Telefonica (TEF.MC) its main Latin American rival.

On the outlook for clients this year, Garcia-Moreno said the goal continues to be 20 million new subscribers, down from 28.6 million new additions last year, which would take its total client base to around 175 million.

"We know there are doubts about the performance of the different economies and the impact of this on our growth, but we feel very confident that we can achieve our goals," he said.

"In general, the region today is in a very much more solid situation economically than in the past. In a way, this crisis has found us in good shape," he said, pointing to high commodity prices, sound public finances and low inflation.

America Movil does business in 17 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean and also has operations in the United States.

Its shares were up 1.54 percent at 34.89 pesos.

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

(Reporting by Chris Aspin and Tomas Sarmiento, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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