* Mexico antitrust regulator to rule on Slim plan
* Ruling also expected for Televisa proposal (Adds comments by regulator’s spokesman)
By Noel Randewich
MEXICO CITY, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Mexico’s antitrust regulator will likely rule on tycoon Carlos Slim’s plan to consolidate his telecommunications assets on Thursday, a spokesman for the regulator told Reuters.
Slim launched a $21 billion plan in January to shift control of his Mexican fixed-line operator Telmex TELMEXL.MX and regional fixed-line operator Telmex Internacional TELINTL.MX into his flagship America Movil (AMXL.MX) cellphone company.
As competition in Latin American telecommunications increases, Slim wants to integrate his companies to create a provider with fixed-line telephone, mobile and Internet services across Latin America to better challenge rivals.
But regulators have struggled for years to reduce the dominance of Slim’s America Movil and Telmex in Mexico’s telephone industry, raising questions about whether they will approve the plan or perhaps attach conditions to their blessing.
“The board’s resolution can only go three ways: acceptance, rejection or the third would be conditional,” the spokesman said.
Under Slim’s proposal, Telmex, which boasts around 80 percent of Mexico’s fixed-line market, will be controlled by America Movil but the two companies will remain separate entities.
America Movil plans to absorb Telmex Internacional completely, with fixed-line and Internet services in Brazil and other parts of South America, and eventually delist it from the stock market.
Also on Thursday, the regulator expects to rule on a proposal by Mexican media group Televisa TLVACPO.MX to acquire part of wireless phone operator Nextel’s Mexico operation, the spokesman said.
Mexican media reported last month that Televisa, which would like to expand into triple-play services, was looking at paying $1 billion for a stake of between 20 and 30 percent in Nextel Mexico, part of the NII NIHD.O group.
Consumers are expected to gravitate toward media companies that can bundle television, Internet and phone services, so leading providers are looking for ways to combine those services under one roof.
Late last month, NII Holdings said it plans to bid for new mobile frequencies to bolster its coverage in Mexico as it deploys ‘third generation’ wireless technology across the region.
The Mexican government had previously launched the long-awaited terms for mobile-phone frequency auctions, and hopes to unveil winners by midyear. (Reporting by Noel Randewich, editing by Matthew Lewis)