Mexican standoff? Salinas denies his 50% stake in Iusacell is for sale

31 Jul 2014

Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas has asserted that his 50% stake in domestic mobile operator Iusacell is not for sale, potentially dashing the hopes of Spain’s Telefonica, which is said to be in the process of putting together a deal for the cellco. In a series of Tweets yesterday, the tycoon clarified: ‘Telefonica says it wants to buy Grupo Salinas’ stake in Iusacell. Not for sale … The new [telecoms] law gives us certainty and the confidence to continue growing … I am very optimistic about the future of Iusacell. We will continue to invest for growth’. The denial followed Telefonica’s recent statement to the Spanish stock market regulator, which saw the international telecoms group confirm its interest in the Mexican firm. Co-owner Grupo Televisa has yet to comment on the reports.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Iusacell is currently 100% owned by GSF Telecom Holdings; GSF is 50/50 joint venture between Salinas-backed conglomerate Grupo Salinas and multimedia giant Grupo Televisa. Although the current shareholder structure has been in place since June 2012, the cellco has had a number of international owners over the years, including UK-based Vodafone Group and US-based Verizon Communications. In April 2001 Vodafone acquired a 34.5% stake in Iusacell from its founders, the Peralta Family, in a deal worth USD973 million. It joined Verizon, which had acquired its own stake back in 1993, going on to up its shareholding to 39.4% in 1997. In 2003 Grupo Salinas acquired the pair’s combined 73.9% stake for a knock-down fee of USD10 million, after agreeing to assume USD815 million worth of debt.

Mexico, Iusacell (inc. Unefon), Telefonica, Telefonica Moviles Mexico (Movistar)