AT&T, the second-largest mobile operator in the US, could be interested in investing in Mexico, according to chief strategy officer John Stankey.
Speaking at an investor conference, Stankey was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that he sees a lot of options in Latin America, both in the short and long term.
The comments follow reports that America Movil, the dominant telecoms player in Mexico, is talking to a number of operators, including AT&T, about offloading some of its infrastructure.
The Carlos Slim-controlled operator group is aiming to boost competition and reduce its market share to 50 per cent, after profits were hit by limitations imposed by regulators to curb its dominance. The group holds a 70 per cent mobile market share in Mexico and 80 per cent share for landlines.
America Movil is looking to sell infrastructure located in adjacent states along Mexico’s east coast for up to $17.5 billion.
As well as AT&T, Japan’s SoftBank, China Mobile and Canada’s Bell Mobility are also understood to have been approached by America Movil regarding these assets.
“If we weren’t looking at Mexico and Latin America more broadly and thinking about what opportunities there were to further shareholder returns down there, and begin to diversify our revenue sources, I think we’d be asleep at the wheel. So yeah, we are intrigued by it,” AT&T’s Stankey said.
The executive also noted that the recent regulatory reform in Mexico, which has identified America Movil as having excessive market dominance, makes the market particularly attractive.
AT&T has also looked at Europe for potential investments, according to Stankey, although he failed to mention specific plans for either region.
The US number two operator is currently in the process of closing the acquisition of satellite TV company DirectTV, which has a presence in Latin America, including a stake in Sky Mexico. AT&T currently only has operations in the US, however.
Until very recently, AT&T owned a small stake in America Movil but sold it to boost the prospects of the DirectTV deal being approved.