UPDATE 1-America Movil seeks to boost share repurchase firepower

Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:20pm EDT

MEXICO CITY, March 19 (Reuters) - Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim's telecom giant, America Movil, aims to boost by 40 billion pesos ($3.21 billion) the fund it uses to repurchase shares, the company said in a statement to the Mexican stock exchange on Tuesday.

The repurchase fund increase would need to be approved at the annual shareholder meeting on April 30, the statement said.

The announcement came just more than a week after Mexico launched a sweeping reform of the sector, which is aimed at spurring foreign investment and boosting competition in telecommunications. It will give regulators the power to force companies to sell assets if they have more than 50 percent of the market.

The company's shares have since fallen nearly 12 percent, prompting aggressive share buybacks by the firm.

On Friday alone, the company's treasury purchased 150 million shares for a total of 1.837 billion pesos ($147.6 million) to boost the share price, which hit a four-year low the same day. The shares bounced back 1.55 percent on Tuesday.

The reform was approved last Thursday by a lower house committee for constitutional matters. It is expected to be presented to the floor of the House for a vote this week and, if approved, would then head to the Senate.

Slim, the world's richest man, controls some 70 percent of Mexico's mobile market and 80 percent of its fixed phone lines.

He has so far hailed the reform as a means to boost access to broadband Internet access and buoy telecom sector competition, but has not commented on the measure's impact on his own business.