(Adds comments from Salinas Pliego)
MADRID/MEXICO CITY July 30 Spain's Telefonica
confirmed on Wednesday it in talks over a possible deal
in Mexico, where for years it has tried to take market share
from Carlos Slim's America Movil, after a report said it was
close to buying mobile company Iusacell.
The Spanish firm said it had not reached any agreement.
Sources close to the group said any deal was not likely to be
Earlier on Wednesday website El Confidencial, citing unnamed
sources close to the talks, reported Telefonica was close to
acquiring Mexico's third-largest wireless telecoms company
Iusacell, worth up to 3 billion euros ($4 billion).
Telefonica declined to comment specifically on whether it
was negotiating an acquisition of Iusacell.
Ricardo Salinas Pliego, the Mexican billionaire owner of
Grupo Salinas, said via Twitter on Wednesday that his 50 percent
stake in Iusacell was "not for sale."
"Telefonica says it wants to buy Grupo Salinas' stake in
Iusacell. It is not for sale," Salinas Pliego said on his
Twitter account @RicardoBSalinas.
A spokesman for Grupo Televisa, which owns the
other half of Iusacell, declined to comment.
Mexico's notoriously concentrated telecommunications sector
is being prised open by a reform led by President Enrique Pena
Nieto to encourage competition.
Telefonica has about 20 percent of Mexico's cellphone
subscribers while Iusacell has about 8 percent, well behind
Slim's America Movil, which has about 70 percent.
But America Movil said earlier this month it would divest
assets in an unprecedented step to cut its market share below 50
percent in response to the toughest regulations in over 20
years, fuelling competitors' hopes that the market would become
Analysts said a potential tie-up between Telefonica and
Iusacell, while positive, would not drastically change market
conditions in Mexico, which accounts for just around 1 percent
of the Spanish firm's core profit.
($1 = 0.7461 Euros)
(Reporting by Julien Toyer and Andres Gonzalez in Madrid and
Christine Murray in Mexico City, editing by Louise Heavens and