May 20, 2013
Associated Press, 5/19/2013
Mexicans often feel that billionaire Carlos Slim owns everything in their country, from telephone and Internet companies to banks and chain stores, but his latest acquisitive foray is meeting resistance after touching a national passion: soccer. Slim recently bought part of two of Mexico’s first division soccer teams, setting up another showdown with television giants Televisa and TV Azteca, major players in the soccer field that are in turn trying to push their way into Slim’s telecommunications and Internet markets.
The owners of the 18 Mexican first division clubs are scheduled to meet Monday to decide whether one person or one company can own more than one first-division soccer team, and many see Slim as the target. Each team has one vote in decisions by the Mexican Football Federation, so purchasing more teams would give Slim more power in the federation. Recently, there have been rumors in sporting circles and on social networks that Slim also plans to buy or acquire the broadcast rights for Chivas, one of Mexico’s two most popular teams, along with Televisa’s America. The billionaire’s spokesmen have denied that.
May 17, 2013
Global Post, 5/17/2013
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto vows big changes with the economic reforms he’s pushing and they’ve already taken more than a little change from the pockets of mega-mogul Carlos Slim. With stock in his flagship phone company America Movil slipping because of telecommunications reforms about to become law, Slim lost the title of world’s richest man Thursday to Microsoft founder Bill Gates for the first time in six years.
Peña Nieto seems on a roll with his campaign to shift the chatter about his country from drug war violence to economic possibility. Since taking office in December, he has worked with political opponents to push constitutional fixes aimed at breaking the choke hold interest groups have around Mexico’s economy.
May 17, 2013
Spain’s Telefonica expects Mexico’s new government to quickly implement new regulations designed to challenge billionaire Carlos Slim’s dominance in the local telecommunications market, a top company official said. In the last decade since entering Mexico, Telefonica has battled Slim’s firms – the country’s dominant fixed-line, Internet and mobile providers – while struggling to convince regulators to level the playing field.
However, President Enrique Pena Nieto successfully pushed a sweeping telecommunication legislation through Congress this spring that should help growth at Telefonica, No. 2 in Mexico in terms of subscribers with about 20 percent of the mobile phone market. This week a majority of Mexican states approved the constitutional reform designed to circumvent the legal hurdles that have prevented regulators from boosting competition in the sector for so long.
May 15, 2013
A Mexican law to boost competition in telecommunications and media gained approval from a majority of state legislatures, surmounting its final hurdle for passage. “It’s a historic day for Mexico,” Jose Ignacio Peralta, deputy communications minister, said in a message posted on Twitter announcing the milestone. President Enrique Pena Nieto has already pledged support for the bill, which passed both houses of Congress last month.
The proposal seeks to increase investment and reduce prices in the phone and pay-television industries and to create more choice in broadcast TV. It would create tougher conditions for America Movil SAB, which has 70 percent of Mexico’s mobile-phone subscribers, and Grupo Televisa SAB, which gets 70 percent of the nation’s broadcast-television audience.
May 13, 2013
Loud laughter greeted Slim’s early remarks, and within a few minutes a major nonviolent protest erupted: kazoo-playing audience members trooped around the giant hall and left the building after flinging multicolored pieces of monopoly money into the air.
What was printed on that money? It bore the legend “$73 Billion Net Worth By Price Gouging & Overcharging.” And that’s when I realized that this moment represented a turning point: Monopoly communications industry behavior may finally become socially interesting in America. There are just a few steps between what’s happened in Mexico and what’s going on here in the United States.
May 1, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 4/30/13
Mexico’s Senate on Tuesday adopted legislation to revamp the country’s telecom market, giving final congressional passage to a bill intended to increase competition and end quasimonopolistic practices. The telecom reform, proposed by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and the main parties of the opposition in early March, is seen as a game-changing effort that gives the Mexican state enlarged powers to rein in longtime dominant players such as billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB (AMX) and Grupo Televisa (TV), the world’s largest Spanish-language television network.
The vote in the upper house was 108-3 in favor, ratifying a revised bill passed by the Chamber of Deputies last week. It obtained support across the political spectrum, from Mr. Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to the right-wing National Action Party, or PAN, and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD. With the congressional approval, the bill now has to be passed by a majority of state legislatures, a process that will likely be a formality, lawmakers said. Mr. Pena Nieto could sign the bill into law in June, they added.
April 22, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 4/19/13
Mexico’s Senate on Friday passed a telecommunications reform bill that aims to increase competition and development in the industry and rein in the market power of dominant players. Senators voted 118 to three in favor of the bill in the early hours, and returned it to the lower house of Congress, which has to approve a number of changes that senators made to the proposal. The lower house had already passed the bill.
President Enrique Pena Nieto sent the telecommunications proposal to Congress in early March, seeking to give regulators increased powers to improve competitive conditions in the market, raise investment, and rapidly expand access to broadband services at more affordable rates.
April 12, 2013
Billionaire Carlos Slim is preparing an aggressive push into Mexico’s television market to take advantage of new telecommunications legislation, even as the changes threaten his dominance in the phone business. While Slim’s wireless carrier, America Movil SAB, is one of the chief targets of a bill to create more competition in Mexico, proposals to give consumers more options in cable and satellite TV will benefit the company, Chief Financial Officer Carlos Garcia-Moreno said last month. The bill is under Senate review after passing the lower house of Congress in March.
The law offers Slim his best chance in years to get a license to offer pay-TV services over satellite and cable, said Pablo Vallejo, an analyst at Corporativo GBM SAB. Slim, the world’s richest person, is amassing media assets, including Mexican soccer teams and the rights to air the Olympics, to lure customers with exclusive programming.
April 5, 2013
To learn more about Mexico’s structural reform agenda and new security strategy, don’t miss next week’s event at the Mexico Institute.
The Economist, 4/4/13
Until recently a good place to catch forty winks amid the din of Mexico City was in one of the country’s somnolent legislative palaces. Cameras have often caught congressmen snoozing on the job, between games of Angry Birds on their taxpayer-funded iPads. But the past few months have seen Mexico’s legislators jolted awake. Enrique Peña Nieto, who became president on December 1st, has set a furious pace, pushing through reforms designed to correct some of his country’s long-standing structural weaknesses.
Out of government, Mr Peña’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ran Mexico for seven uninterrupted decades until 2000, had acted as an obstacle to reform rather than an instigator. Before last July’s presidential election the party did its best to block the proposals of Felipe Calderón (who in any case proved to be inept at constructing consensus). After Mr Peña’s victory this changed, with the passage of a labour reform that the PRI had previously blocked. An education law in February claws back control of teachers’ hiring and firing, previously the preserve of the teachers’ union. The new president sent a powerful signal to dissenters when the union’s leader, Elba Esther Gordillo, once a leader of the PRI, was arrested on charges of embezzling more than $150m of union funds (an allegation she denies).
April 4, 2013
Mexico’s competition watchdog said on Wednesday it would temporarily suspend a $53 million fine it had levied against a fixed-line phone company controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim. The Federal Competition Commission (Cofeco) ordered in February that Telmex, part of Slim’s telecoms giant America Movil , should pay 657 million Mexican pesos ($53.4 million) after regulators found it had denied rival Axtel access to some of its network.
Cofeco said on its website that an appeal had been filed and that the fine would be suspended during a review by the regulators. Telmex has said it believes Cofeco’s ruling is unfounded. Slim’s legal teams have been able to avoid major rulings against his firms by Cofeco and the country’s telecoms regulator, which have both sought for years to curb the dominance of Slim’s companies.