January 30, 2013 / 1:25 AM / in 5 years

Mexico telecoms reform may treat Slim differently-Fin Min

MEXICO CITY, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Mexico’s plans to boost competition in the telecommunications sector may make distinctions between the industry’s dominant player, tycoon Carlos Slim, and his rivals, Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said on Tuesday.

New President Enrique Pena Nieto took office on Dec. 1 pledging to shake up competition in Mexico, where crucial sectors like telecoms are concentrated in a few hands.

Slim, the world’s richest man, controls about 70 percent of the mobile phone market and around 80 percent of the fixed line business, and Videgaray’s words offered one of the clearest indications yet the new government aims to weaken his hold.

Videgaray told a news conference in Mexico City that a pact signed between Mexico’s main political parties last month could seek to impose “asymmetric regulation between the dominant competitor and the remaining competitors in the industry”.

“What does this mean? That there’s a distinct treatment in terms of regulatory effects, as is the case in many countries where there’s a dominant competitor, or one which is significantly larger than the remaining players in the industry,” Videgaray said, without naming Slim specifically.

The minister added that the government planned to increase the power of Mexico’s telecoms regulator, Cofetel.

The dominance of moguls like Slim is blamed for pushing up the cost of vital services in Latin America’s second biggest economy. Slim’s companies argue their prices reflect the outlays incurred in developing Mexico’s telecoms infrastructure.

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