April 4, 2011 / 4:29 PM / 6 years ago

Mexico's Televisa seen ally with Iusacell-report

3 Min Read

MEXICO CITY, April 4 (Reuters) - Mexico's top broadcaster Televisa (TV.N) is in advanced negotiations over a possible tie-up with Grupo Salinas' cell phone operator Iusacell, a local newspaper columnist wrote on Monday.

Televisa wants to buy a large chunk of Iusacell's outstanding debt -- currently held by secretive Mexican financier David Martinez --- according to columnist Alberto Aguilar from daily El Universal.

Martinez -- who U.S. media identified as the buyer of a $54 million penthouse at the Time Warner building in Manhattan -- owns investment fund Fintech Advisory and holds at least $200 million of Iusacell debt, Aguilar said without mentioning sources.

"There is nothing to this regard," a Televisa spokesman told Reuters when asked about the El Universal column. He declined to comment further.

Iusacell, currently under creditor protection, and Mexico's No. 2 broadcaster TV Azteca, are part of Grupo Salinas, owned by entrepreneur Ricardo Salinas, one of the country's wealthiest men with a fortune estimated at more than $8 billion, according to Forbes.

A Iusacell CEL.MX official could not immediately be reached for a comment.

Televisa and TV Azteca (AZTECACPO.MX) are embroiled in a dispute with companies controlled by tycoon Carlos Slim, who controls telephone network Telmex TELMEXL.MX and cell phone network America Movil (AMXL.MX) (AMX.N).

Slim wants to expand into television in Mexico so his companies can offer so-called triple-play packages. In Mexico the government has so far refused permission for the world's richest man to expand into media, due to competition concerns.

Grupo Televisa (TLVACPO.MX) has broadcast, cable, satellite, publishing, and gaming businesses and is the main content provider for U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision UVN.UL.

Televisa ended in 2010 a partnership with NII Holdings Inc's (NIHD.O) Nextel Mexico, leaving it with no partner to enter the mobile phone market in the country. [ID:nN18191168] (Reporting by Elinor Comlay, additional reporting by Cyntia Barrera Diaz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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