September 15, 2011 / 9:00 PM / 8 years ago

Mexico agency, mulling $1 bln Slim fine, gets new member

Sept 15 (Reuters) - Mexico President Felipe Calderon on Thursday appointed one of his advisers to join the nation’s competition commission as the panel weighs a $1 billion fine against billionaire Carlos Slim.

Cristina Massa, a regulatory and economic advisor to Calderon, fills out the five-member board of Mexico’s monopoly watchdog Cofeco and could become an important voice in a ruling against Slim and Telcel, the Mexican unit of his mobile phone giant America Movil (AMX.N) (AMXL.MX).

Cofeco narrowly ruled in April that the company charged unfair prices to wireless and home phone competitors to connect to its network.

That decision split the Cofeco board: two commissioners voted against fining Telcel, one voted in favor and Massa’s predecessor, Agustin Navarro, cited a conflict of interest and stood aside.

Eduardo Perez Motta, president of Cofeco, has a weighted vote and cast it to pass the ruling.

Eager to flag Cofeco’s win against the telecom giant, Perez Motta talked openly in local media about the agency’s crackdown, prompting Telcel to complain of unfair treatment.

Telcel filed a motion to bar Perez Motta from a second vote where regulators were to decide whether to ratify the fine.

Massa, a lawyer, will become a fresh and possibly important voice on the question of the Slim fine.

She previously helped write a reform of Mexico’s competition rules that was passed earlier this year.

Multiple legal hurdles stemming from the Telcel fine are likely to prevent Slim from paying the fine any time soon, analysts have said [ID:nN1E77I0X0]. (Reporting by Cyntia Barrera Diaz and Patrick Rucker in Mexico City, editing by Bernard Orr)

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