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By Chris Aspin
MEXICO CITY, May 7 (Reuters) - America Movil (AMXL.MX) said on Wednesday it would sell Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iPhone across Latin America this year, a deal that could extend its lead in the region over Telefonica (TEF.MC).
Mexico-based America Movil, which operates in 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the United States, did not disclose financial details. It did not say if it was an exclusive accord.
The iPhone is a touch-screen device combining Apple’s popular iPod music player, a video player and a Web browser.
America Movil, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, had more than 159 million cell phone subscribers at the end of March. It also had almost 4 million fixed-line clients.
It competes with Spain’s Telefonica in the region and has held the upper hand in customer numbers for a couple of years.
Phone operators around the world have been competing to secure the rights to sell the iPhone.
Customers using the phone have driven up data revenues by surfing the Internet and sending e-mails, a key attraction to operators as the cost of making calls decreases.
But on Tuesday, telecoms companies Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L) and Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) announced they would both sell the iPhone in Italy, in an apparent break from Apple’s previous focus on exclusive carrier deals.
Shares of America Movil surrendered their early gains as the broader stock market weakened.
As well as Mexico and the United States, America Movil operates in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.
Separately, Panama’s government handed Claro Panama, a unit of America Movil, an operating license on Wednesday after the firm agreed to pay $86 million for a mobile phone concession. (Additional reporting by Andrew Beatty in Panama; Editing by Braden Reddall)