Telefonica seeks to buy back shares in mobile unit

Spain's largest operator Telefonica plans to buy back the public shares of its fast-growing mobile unit Telefonica Moviles for $4.2 billion, seeking to ensure full control of the business after a recent spate of acquisitions, an Associated Press report said.


According to the report, Telefonica said it would offer four of its own shares for five Moviles shares. Telefonica already owned 92.5% of the wireless unit.


Telefonica said it planned to issue up to 261 million shares to pay for the merger, the report said.

Moviles is the main competitor in Latin America of Mexico's America Movil and has been expanding aggressively in the region. In 2004, it bought the Latin American assets of Atlanta-based BellSouth.


As of December 31, Moviles had 94 million subscribers worldwide. That included almost 20 million customers in Spain, where the company led the market, and 71 million in Latin America, the report said.