Regulator finds ties between Slim and Dish Mexico: report
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's telecommunications regulator has found that Carlos Slim's fixed-line telephone company, Telmex, and pay-television provider Dish Mexico have undisclosed economic links that might breach anti-trust rules, newspaper El Financiero said on Monday.
Slim dominates Mexico's phone and Internet markets through Telmex parent America Movil, but the terms of Telmex's concession prevent the company from offering TV.
If regulator Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) found that Telmex breached its concession, it could impose a fine on the company.
Dish Mexico, which is backed by Mexico's MVS Comunicaciones and Colorado-based EchoStar Corp, has drawn millions of customers, many from Groupo Televisa SAB, the No. 1 Mexican broadcaster, which offers pay TV, Internet and phone services.
Telmex and Dish have had a deal to print a single bill for shared services, but El Financiero said the IFT has decided there is evidence of a tie-up between the two that goes further.
"The alliance between Dish Mexico Holdings and its subsidiaries with Telmex ... has an economic aim of giving Telmex influence over Dish Mexico's business, allowing the two companies to coordinate the behavior and decision making of Dish Mexico in the market," the newspaper said, citing a report it said was sent to both companies and dated May 21.
El Financiero said the two had 30 working days to respond, a time period that ends this week.
In a statement, Dish denied it had such links with Telmex.
"Telmex is not a partner, it is not a shareholder, it has no executives nor any other mechanism of influence over the management of Dish," the company said.
Telmex and IFT declined to comment on the report.
Televisa's satellite TV business, Sky, has faced tough competition from Dish Mexico, which offers its most basic package for less than half the price of a similar Sky package.
Televisa and other rivals have complained for years that the partnership between Telmex and Dish Mexico is improper.
Telmex has notified investors of an option to buy a stake in Dish since 2009, according to regulatory filings.
In 2011, Reuters reported that Mexico's competition watchdog had opened a probe to see whether the accord between Telmex and Dish was an illegal, backdoor entry to the television market.
The investigation has been handed to the IFT, a new regulator created last year.
(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter and Tomas Sarmiento; Editing by Leslie Adler and Andre Grenon)