June 30, 2014 / 6:00 PM / in 3 years

Regulator finds economic ties between Slim and Dish Mexico -report

MEXICO CITY, June 30 (Reuters) - Mexico’s telecoms regulator has found that tycoon Carlos Slim’s fixed-line phone company Telmex and pay-television provider Dish Mexico have undisclosed economic links that may breach anti-trust rules, a newspaper reported on Monday.

Slim dominates Mexico’s phone and Internet markets through Telmex’s parent, America Movil, but the terms of Telmex’s concession prevent the company from offering TV, mindful that the billionaire could crush competitors.

If the regulator, the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), found that Telmex is in breach of its concession, it could fine the company.

Dish Mexico, which is backed by Mexico’s MVS Comunicaciones and Colorado-based EchoStar Corp, has drawn millions of customers, many from Televisa, the No. 1 Mexican broadcaster, which offers pay TV, Internet and phone services.

Telmex and Dish have had a deal to print a single bill for shared services, but El Financiero said the IFT has decided there is evidence of a tie-up between the two that goes further.

“The alliance between Dish Mexico Holdings and its subsidiaries with Telmex ... has an economic aim of giving Telmex influence over Dish Mexico’s business, allowing the two companies to coordinate the behavior and decision making of Dish Mexico in the market,” the newspaper said, citing a report it said was sent to both companies and dated May 21.

El Financiero said the two companies had 30 working days to respond, a time period that ends this week.

IFT declined to comment on the report. Spokesmen for Telmex and MVS also declined to comment.

Televisa’s satellite TV business Sky has faced tough competition from Dish Mexico, which offers its most basic package at less than half the price of a similar Sky package.

Televisa and other rivals have complained for years that the partnership between Telmex and Dish Mexico is improper.

Telmex has notified investors of an option to buy a stake in Dish since 2009, according to regulatory filings.

In 2011, Reuters reported that Mexico’s competition watchdog had opened a probe to see whether the accord between Telmex and Dish was an illegal, backdoor entry to the television market.

The probe has been handed over to the IFT, a new regulator created last year.

Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter and Tomas Sarmiento; Editing by Leslie Adler

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