* WSJ reports Televisa to buy 50 pct of Iusacell
* Unnamed source tells newspaper deal worth $1.6 bln
* Purchase gives Televisa way into mobile phone market
(Adds analyst's comment, share price)
MEXICO CITY, April 6 Top Mexican broadcaster
Televisa will buy a 50 percent stake in mobile operator Grupo
Iusacell, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing
a source close to the transaction.
The deal would give Televisa, which already has broadcast,
cable, satellite, publishing and gaming businesses, a foothold
in the mobile market dominated in Mexico by mogul Carlos Slim,
who is the world's richest man. [ID:nN09164396]
The transaction would total $1.6 billion and a fraction of
this would go to debt repayment, while the rest would go to
expand Iusacell's network, the newspaper reported.
The size of the deal could far outstrip Iusacell's total
value, which Deutsche Bank estimates at about $950 million.
At the same time, Televisa stands to reap big rewards from
having direct access to a wireless network, with the broadcast
of video over mobile phones considered a potentially big
"(A) wireless network might become the most important
distribution platform in the future," Deutsche Bank analyst
Miguel Garcia wrote in a report.
A spokesman for Televisa (TV.N) (TLVACPO.MX) could neither
confirm nor deny the newspaper story. Iusacell CEL.MX
declined to comment past Tuesday's statement that talks were
underway between the two companies.
A deal between Televisa and Iusacell would introduce a new
twist in the clash between three of Mexico's richest men over
control of the country's communications sector.
Televisa is led by media entrepreneur Emilio Azcarraga and
Iusacell is owned by Grupo Salinas, the group headed by Ricardo
Salinas which also owns Mexico's No. 2 broadcaster, TV Azteca
The two tycoons had a rocky 2010, when Iusacell and
affiliated companies tried to block Televisa's planned purchase
of cellphone spectrum in a joint venture with another company,
But in 2011, both broadcasters stopped running ads for
companies controlled by Slim, who owns telephone network Telmex
TELMEXL.MX and cell phone network America Movil
While Televisa wants into the wireless business, Slim wants
to expand into television in Mexico so his companies can offer
bundled packages of video, telephone and Internet services, as
he does in 16 countries where America Movil operates.
The Mexican government has so far prohibited Slim --
already the biggest provider of pay television services across
Latin America -- to expand into media because of concerns about
Televisa shares slipped 2.88 percent to 56.70 pesos. Its
New York-traded stock slid 2.63 percent to $24.06.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott, Ana Isabel Martinez, Jason
lange and Krista Hughes; Editing by Richard Chang)