As América Móvil's Carlos Slim tries to increase his presence in Europe with a bid for an increased stake in KPN, one of Europe's very own business heavyweights is now planning to take on Slim in his backyard, as Richard Branson revealed plans to challenge the dominance of Slim in the Mexican mobile market.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, which cited an interview Branson gave to Latin American business magazine Expansion, Virgin Mobile Latin America has shifted its expansion plans from Brazil to Mexico after new laws were passed in May that aim to loosen América Móvil's stranglehold on the Mexican telecoms market.
So far Virgin Mobile Latin America has mobile networks in Chile and Colombia, while the Virgin Mobile group also operates in the UK, the United States and eight other countries around the world including India and France. As in its other markets, it would also operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Mexico, signing wholesale arrangements with América Móvil's rivals.
Taking on Slim, whose wealth far exceeds that of Branson's, would be no mean feat, but Branson told Expansion that there is room for both of them: "I don't think [Carlos Slim] will suffer much from our presence," he added.
According to the Telegraph, Virgin Mobile plans to enter the Mexican market next year.
Meanwhile, América Móvil remains in discussions with KPN about potentially acquiring the company, although the situation has been fraught since the KPN foundation exercised an option to buy certain shares that will give it almost 50 per cent of KPN's voting stock and enable it to almost entirely block América Móvil's offer.
- see this Daily Telegraph article
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