Carlos Slim, chairman emeritus of America Movil SAB, speaks during a press conference in Mexico City. (Photographer: Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg)

Carlos Slim Buys Businesses From Rival Telefonica for $648 Million

(Bloomberg) -- Carlos Slim’s phone empire is set to grow larger with the purchase of operations in Guatemala and El Salvador from longtime rival Telefonica SA.

America Movil SAB will buy all of Telefonica’s Guatemalan operation and 99.3 percent of those in El Salvador for $648 million, the Mexican telecom giant said in a filing Thursday. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

America Movil and Spain’s Telefonica have in a pitched battle for decades throughout Latin America, from Mexico, where America Movil has long dominated, to Brazil, where Telefonica rules. A landmark telecom reform passed under former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto was meant to make the landscape more competitive. Five years later, prices in Mexico are down significantly but America Movil’s market share still stands at about 60 percent. Telefonica has blamed regulators for its inability to gain traction in Mexico.

Now, the two have made a deal so Telefonica can ditch underperforming units and reduce debt. America Movil already operates in both countries alongside Millicom International Cellular SA and Digicel Group Ltd.

Liberty Latin America Plc was in talks recently to acquire Millicom. The companies ultimately ended the talks.

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