Slim eyes up Nextel?

11 Jul 2013

Carlos Slim, the controlling shareholder of Mexican telecoms giant America Movil (AM), has held talks with Nextel Argentina about a possible purchase of the digital trunking wireless operator, Argentine newspaper Clarin reports. Local business group Eurnekian is also interested in acquiring Nextel – which is owned by US-based NII Holdings – in partnership with state-owned telecoms company Arsat. NII Holdings said earlier this year that it planned to focus on its core operations in Brazil and Mexico, having agreed to sell its Peruvian unit to Entel Chile in April as a step towards realigning its business. Nextel Argentina had planned to take part in the government’s 800MHz and 1900MHz spectrum auction, which would have enabled it to move away from iDEN technology by rolling out W-CDMA services. However, the auction was cancelled in September 2012, as only one of the six participants met the financial requirements of the tender, and instead Arsat was handed almost 25% of the country’s 3G frequencies. The state-owned company already offers broadband and digital TV, mainly in rural and underserved parts of the country, and also oversees the deployment of the ‘Argentina Conectada’ national fibre-optic network project. It is understood that Arsat plans to use the mobile spectrum to provide wholesale wireless services to small- and medium-sized companies and local telecoms cooperatives under the brand Libre.com, although a launch has yet to take place.

Argentina, America Movil (AM), ARSAT, FiberCorp (formerly Nextel Argentina), NII Holdings