AT&T, the new owner of Mexican mobile operator Iusacell, has ‘cut’ the unit’s subscriber total dramatically to 5.97 million as of 31 March 2015, compared to the figure of 9.20 million cited when the USD2.5 billion takeover deal closed in January this year. AT&T spokeswoman Mari Melguizo told Fierce Wireless: ‘Iusacell’s reporting methodology differed from AT&T’s, and once we completed the acquisition, we conformed it to our reporting standards. This kind of one-time adjustment is standard.’ In addition, AT&T has confirmed that Iusacell, whose previous owner Grupo Salinas never reported the carrier’s financial numbers in detail, posted a USD27 million operating loss for the first quarter of 2015.
The drastically reduced subscriber metric underlines the size of the task faced by AT&T south of the border. The telco, which plans to merge Iusacell with a second mobile firm, Nextel Mexico, has suggested that it will be several years before it is able to compete with America Movil (AM)-backed Telcel on an even footing. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Thaddeus Arroyo, CEO of AT&T Mexico and the man who will lead the combined company, admitted: ‘We certainly have our work cut out … We are moving into a heavy investment period. We are investing for the future in a long-term horizon and you’ll see that reflected in our results … Even in the first two years we will make substantial progress in terms of elevating the experience in Mexico and creating a compelling proposition for customers to increasingly come to AT&T.’