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UPDATE 2-America Movil says 'flexible' on which assets will sell
July 22, 2014 / 4:00 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 2-America Movil says 'flexible' on which assets will sell

(Adds comments on sale report, from interview, share price)

By Christine Murray

MEXICO CITY, July 22 (Reuters) - Carlos Slim’s America Movil said on Tuesday it was still “flexible” over which assets it would sell following an overhaul of Mexico’s telecoms market, adding it would present its plan to the regulator once it had found a buyer.

Earlier this month, as tough new regulations against it were being finalized, America Movil surprised the market by saying it aimed to avoid the rules by selling a chunk of Mexico assets to a new, and likely foreign, competitor.

The telecoms overhaul was initiated by President Enrique Pena Nieto to drive competition in the sector, where Slim controls around 70 percent of the mobile market and more than 60 percent of landlines.

Asked how it would split off assets to sell, regionally or nationally, and whether it would include full-service telecoms, the company said it had nothing concrete.

“We want to be flexible and we want to understand what this new company would want,” Chief Executive Daniel Hajj told a conference call on Tuesday. “We don’t have a buyer today.”

“We have some idea which companies ... (but) we are not talking with them at this stage,” Hajj said.

The company aims to drop below 50 percent market share in Mexican telecoms to shed its “dominant” tag.

Before presenting a plan to the new regulator, the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), the company said it wanted to find a buyer for the assets which fits all the requirements.

Slim, whose family controls more than half of America Movil, told Reuters in an interview earlier this month he wanted to sell an attractive cross-section of the company to a strong buyer.

Chief Financial Officer Carlos Garcia Moreno said on Tuesday the report a day earlier suggesting it could sell off either its Telcel or Telmex operations as a whole misinterpreted Slim’s comments.

“It was not a separation of any of the companies, but rather a transversal cut ... of the businesses of America Movil,” he said.

Shares in America Movil rose 1.79 percent to 15.34 pesos per share by 1820 GMT on Tuesday, trading near a more than one-year high they hit last week.

On Monday, America Movil said the new rules, which force it to share infrastructure, stop national roaming charges and slash what it charges competitors to use its network, dragged down revenues.

The company reiterated what Slim said earlier that it was looking to spin off, not sell, its cellular infrastructure such as towers in response to new regulations in Mexico.

“It’s not going to be a sale, it’s going to be a spin-off,” Hajj said. “This company would open the towers to rent for everybody.”

Executives said America Movil was considering participating in a bid process for new satellite orbital positions in Mexico.

The company dismissed the idea it would make drastic changes to its U.S. business Tracfone after news reports speculated it could try to make a bid for T-Mobile. (Editing by Gunna Dickson)

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