Latin American mobile giant America Movil reported a mixed fourth-quarter as higher taxes impacted earnings. The Mexican-based firm reported net profit of MXN12.955 billion (US$989 million) in the October to December period, a 17.2 percent fall from a year earlier. Its tax bill for the quarter was MXN7.46 billion compared to just MXN394 million a year ago. However, quarterly revenue rose 13.43 percent year-on-year to MXN107 billion, beating a Reuters estimate of an 8.6 percent rise; EBITDA came in at MXN40.8 billion, up 16.9 percent. The operator also signed up 6.6 million new clients in the fourth quarter, more than the 5.6 million forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts. This customer growth was led by America Movil’s Brazilian subsidiary, which added 2.1 million new customers in the quarter; followed by its Tracfone MVNO in the US (1.2 million new additions), and then its home market of Mexico (807,000).

“With the South American economies recovering more rapidly than anticipated from the crisis that shook the world towards the end of 2008, subscriber growth in those countries re-accelerated,” America Movil said in a statement. America Movil is owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (pictured), who last month announced plans to merge the operator with the two fixed-line operators he owns: Telmex, Mexico’s leading fixed-line operator, and Telmex International, which provides similar services across Latin America. The deal – which is valued at over US$20 billion – is expected to create an integrated operator with around 250 million subscribers and is designed to enable the merged entity to better compete with its fierce local rival, Telefonica.