America Movil (AM), via its Peruvian subsidiary Sercotel, has announced an agreement to buy TIM Peru for EUR407 million. The move follows AM’s purchase earlier this year of Peru’s fourth wireless licence for USD21.1 million. TIM Peru is the country’s second largest wireless operator, with 1.27 million customers at the end of March 2005, giving it a market share of 29%. Its chief rival, with 67% of customers, is Telefonica’s Movistar, the company formed last year by the merger of Telefonica Moviles and BellSouth Peru. A third player, Nextel Peru, a subsidiary of US-based Nextel Communications, has spectrum rights in the 800MHz frequency and uses a packet-based integrated digital enhanced network (iDEN) platform, supplied by Motorola, to deliver basic voice services, a digital walkie-talkie offering and mobile messaging to corporate users in Lima. Nextel had 198,000 customers at the end of March.
The acquisition was not wholly unexpected; AM has been on somewhat of spending spree in recent months (it bought Chile’s Smartcom earlier this week), while Telecom Italia, the parent of TIM, has long made known its intention to quit some of its Latin American operations. Indeed analysts have named Digitel, TIM’s Venezuelan arm, as the next likely purchase for America Movil.