Latin American telecoms heavyweight América Móvil (AM) is said to be setting its sights on Venezuela and Brazil as it looks to continue its expansion plans in the region. AM’s owner Carlos Slim snapped up Chilean cellco Smartcom for USD472 million last week, but the Mexican tycoon is intent on increasing his portfolio still further and has short-listed Venezuela, Brazil, Panama and Bolivia as potential prime targets.
AM’s primary target in Venezuela is likely to be the country’s third largest mobile network operator Digitel, majority owned by Telecom Italia Mobile. In May this year the Venezuelan telecoms regulator rejected a bid by fixed line telco CANTV to buy Digitel for USD450 million, over fears it could limit sector competition. CANTV’s failure could clear the way for Carlos Slim to step in and take control of Digitel and in the process take the fight to Telefónica Móviles, its leading rival in the LatAm region, which is currently the leading player in Venezuela through its wholly owned subsidiary Telcel.