SoftBank eyeing up América Móvil wireless assets – report

SoftBank is considering buying the wireless assets of Carlos Slim-owned América Móvil, according to a report. Apparently the Japanese tech giant has asked US subsidiary firm Sprint’s CEO Marcelo Claure to gather information on the business up for sale on its behalf.

América Móvil said in July it plans to sell some of its assets in a bid to avoid regulatory sanctions as Mexico tightens up its competition laws. By Ovum’s WCIS service estimate the Mexican heavyweight telco currently holds 70% of the country’s mobile market through Telcel, while it is said to be even more dominant in fixed line. To avoid getting in regulators’ teeth, the company must lower its market share pretty quickly.

According to the news report, some have estimated the América Móvil offer to be worth $15 billion, but “a person familiar with the matter” said bids are likely to come up to $10 billion only. However, SoftBank has yet to decide whether it is to make an offer or not.

SoftBank, which acquired Sprint last year, is waiting Claure’s advice on the matter. Claure has a long background in the US and Latin American mobile markets, and while SoftBank is an expected bidder in the AM deal, the problem is appraising its assets correctly in a market it has such a strong dominance in.

It was also reported AT&T might be interested in buying, while Verizon Communications has apparently ruled out the option. For SoftBank the purchase would seem like a logical step as part of its expansion strategy. Its financial position is also in good nick following the successful IPO of Internet wholesaler business Alibaba, which benefited the Japanese firm nicely.

Since taking over Sprint, SoftBank has been looking for another investment in the North American territory, including T-Mobile US, which it would have acquired through Sprint. The deal, however, fell through amid heavy scrutiny from regulators.

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