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Televisa Agrees to Antitrust Conditions for Iusacell Deal

Grupo Televisa SAB, the world’s largest Spanish-language broadcaster, said it owns a 50 percent stake in Grupo Iusacell SA after a debt conversion, giving it an entry into Mexico’s wireless business.

The broadcaster said today it had agreed to terms set by the nation’s antitrust agency to allow the company to go forward. The Federal Competition Commission, which reversed an earlier decision on appeal, said last week that Televisa could complete the move if the company took steps to open itself to more competition.

The settlement ended a 14-month struggle by Mexico City-based Televisa for the right to take on billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB in the mobile-phone business. Iusacell has about 6 percent of Mexico’s wireless subscribers, compared with America Movil’s 70 percent.

Televisa fell 1.5 percent to 55.49 pesos at the close in Mexico City. The company paid $1.6 billion last year for Iusacell convertible debt.

Billionaire Ricardo Salinas, who controls Mexico’s No. 2 broadcaster TV Azteca SAB, owns the other half of Iusacell. Azteca and Iusacell are studying the antitrust agency’s conditions, which are “very tough, very onerous, difficult to understand and to comply with,” Luis Nino, a spokesman for Salinas’s group of companies, said June 14.

Dan McCosh, a spokesman for the Salinas group, said today its position hasn’t changed.

Under terms of the antitrust settlement, the partnership agreed between the Salinas group and Televisa can be dissolved if the government fails to auction airwaves for a third broadcast TV network in the next 24 months. Televisa and Azteca will also have to offer cable and satellite TV providers the option to buy their over-the-air channels separately from the cable channels both companies produce.

Salinas will accept the conditions, since his companies and Televisa proposed most of them to the antitrust agency, Vera Rossi, an analyst at Barclays Plc in New York, said today in a research note.

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