NII Will Keep Airwaves as Televisa Deal Lingers, Official Says
NII Holdings Inc. (NIHD), in talks to complete a wireless venture with Grupo Televisa SA, isn’t at risk of losing the airwaves it won in a Mexican government auction after dozens of legal challenges, the Communications and Transportation Ministry’s top lawyer said.
Attempts by rival Grupo Iusacell SA to block NII from using the airwaves have been unsuccessful, Gerardo Sanchez Henkel said yesterday in an interview. A federal judge in the state of Veracruz yesterday was the latest to deny Iusacell an injunction related to the licenses, Sanchez said.
Televisa may be seeking to add a clause in the NII agreement, announced in February, that would allow it to exit the venture if NII loses the airwaves, Andres Coello, an analyst at BBVA Bancomer SA, said in a note to clients. NII should allow such a clause because the chances of losing the airwaves are remote, Coello said in the note sent Oct. 6.
“Once they review all the steps that we went through and all the decisions, they will conclude from this process that they may go ahead with their agreement,” Sanchez Henkel said of Televisa. (TLEVICPO) “We do not expect risk or any ruling under which this project cannot go further.”
Televisa, based in Mexico City, hasn’t contacted the ministry’s legal staff to review its procedures, Sanchez Henkel said. A spokesman for Televisa, the world’s largest Spanish- language broadcaster, declined to comment.
“The parties are currently in discussion regarding whether the other closing conditions have been or can be met,” Claudia Restrepo, a spokeswoman for the Reston, Virginia-based company, said in an e-mail. She declined to elaborate on the conditions. NII is the operator of the Nextel brand for mobile-phone service in Latin America.
Iusacell will continue to battle the airwave licenses in court, arguing that NII unfairly won the spectrum at a discount, said Salvador Rocha, a lawyer for Mexico’s third-largest mobile- phone carrier.
“The enthusiasm of Mr. Sanchez Henkel doesn’t have a solid foundation and is nothing more than a show of desire,” Rocha said.
The government argues that NII, the smallest of Mexico’s four mobile-phone carriers, got its airwaves at a lower price than competitors America Movil SAB and Telefonica SA (TEF) because of rules that were designed to encourage competition, Sanchez Henkel said.
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