América Móvil has announced that it has raised its stake in Telekom Austria to 50.8 percent. Its tender offer of 23.5 percent of the Austrian operator’s shares closed on 10 July, and its payment of €7.15 (US $9.70) per share is due by 24 July. Shareholders who did not tender their shares will have three more months in which to do so. The Austrian government will retain a 25 percent stake in Telekom Austria, under a joint shareholding pact it agreed upon with América Móvil in May.
América Móvil, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, was declared dominant by Mexican regulators last year. While it is appealing the dominance finding, it seems that América Móvil has accepted that an appeal is very unlikely to succeed. Last week, the Mexican government approved broad regulations aimed at opening up the telecommunications and broadcasting industries. Shortly thereafter, América Móvil announced plans to divest itself of some of its operations in Mexico, which were not specified, in order to bring the company’s share of the Mexican telecommunications market below 50 percent. That could remove its dominant status and allow it to enter the TV sector.
Whether or not it ends up entering that sector, Mexico has clearly become a much less comfortable environment for América Móvil than previously. With opportunities contracting at home, and the size of its business set to contract there as well—at least for now—América Móvil is looking to expand abroad. By increasing its stake past the 50 percent mark, América Móvil will now control Telekom Austria’s management decisions and thus is set to become a player not only in Austria but in other Central and Eastern European countries where Telekom Austria has a presence.