Speaking at the Wells Fargo & Co. investor conference in New York this week, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has hinted that the US telco could move to expand its presence in Mexico even further, and a move for Nextel de Mexico is viewed as a realistic possibility. Late last week AT&T agreed to acquire Mexico’s third-largest wireless carrier, Grupo Iusacell, and the USD2.5 billion deal is expected to be a precursor to a major push south of the border for the US telco.
According to Bloomberg, Stephenson used the conference to assert that the much-discussed fixed and wireless assets that America Movil (AM) is planning to sell are not crucial to AT&T’s plans, while Nextel’s Mexican business is viewed as ‘interesting and attractive’. Nextel’s parent NII Holdings filed for bankruptcy protection in September this year, and the US owner is believed to be open to offers for its units in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. However, Stephenson acknowledges that it is difficult to gauge precisely which saleable assets will emerge from the bankruptcy proceedings, suggesting no deal is imminent.
TeleGeography notes that AT&T is currently awaiting regulatory approval to complete its takeover of DirecTV, the US satellite-TV operator with considerable assets across Latin America, including a non-controlling stake in Sky Mexico. Interestingly, DirecTV’s current management team has launched TD-LTE fixed-wireless technology using 2500MHz spectrum via both Sky Brasil and DirecTV Colombia, with plans afoot to initiate a similar deployment in Peru. While far from widespread, the rollouts theoretically offer AT&T another foothold in the Latin American telecoms sector.