America Movil aims to cut Mexico market share below 50 percent

MEXICO CITY Tue Jul 8, 2014 7:08pm EDT

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim arrives to the opening of the Inbursa Aquarium in the wealthy neighbourhood of Polanco in Mexico City May 30, 2014. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim arrives to the opening of the Inbursa Aquarium in the wealthy neighbourhood of Polanco in Mexico City May 30, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Tomas Bravo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Billionaire Carlos Slim's America Movil said on Tuesday its board voted to sell off assets to cut its Mexico telecommunications market share below 50 percent in order to avoid tough new regulations designed to curb its long-held dominance of the sector.

America Movil, which runs mobile, Internet and fixed-line businesses, said in a statement that its board of directors had decided to sell certain assets to a new company independent of America Movil. It did not specify the assets.

Slim's companies are being forced to slash costs they charge other companies to complete calls on their network and share infrastructure after a new market regulator declared it dominant in the fixed-line and mobile phone markets.

President Enrique Pena Nieto pushed a telecommunications reform through Congress last year that was designed to rein in Slim's companies as well as top broadcaster Televisa.

Any divestitures would be "conditional" on America Movil's mobile and fixed-line units no longer being declared dominant players, the company said. It also said it expected to be allowed to offer all telecommunications services, which include pay TV.

Slim's companies are barred from offering TV services since they are so dominant in other markets.

Separately, the company said it would sell cellphone towers and other infrastructure.

America Movil's announcement came as Mexico's lower house of Congress voted on legislation needed to flesh out the powers of the new market regulator.

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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