AT&T Inc. cut its stake in America Movil SAB by 7.5 percent, raising about $564 million, to keep its investment steady after billionaire Carlos Slim’s company ramped up share repurchases.
The sale of shares in the open market in Mexico took place between May 7 and June 4, Dallas-based AT&T said yesterday in a U.S. regulatory filing. AT&T remains Mexico City-based America Movil’s second-largest shareholder behind the Slim family. Repurchases this year by Slim’s company, also known as AMX, have reduced its shares outstanding by about 3.7 percent.
“From time to time we rebalance our asset levels and raise cash for general corporate purposes,” AT&T said in an e-mailed statement. “We’ve historically owned about 9 percent of AMX. As a result of AMX’s recent share repurchases and our sales, we will again hold an approximate 9 percent interest in AMX.”
The relationship with America Movil dates back to 1990, when AT&T’s predecessor, Southwestern Bell Corp., helped back Slim’s privatization purchase of Mexico’s state-owned phone company. AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson spent an earlier part of his career overseeing the company’s Mexican investments, working closely with Slim.
“We believe AT&T made the decision to sell in order to return their ownership stake back closer to 9 percent,” said Walt Piecyk, an analyst at BTIG LLC, in a research note today. “We do not expect AT&T to continue their selling.”
America Movil has dropped 16 percent this year in Mexico City trading as Mexican lawmakers created a new regulator with tougher powers to challenge the company’s dominance in the phone business. The carrier has 70 percent of Mexico’s mobile-phone lines and about 80 percent of landlines.
America Movil rose 2.1 percent to 12.82 pesos at the close in Mexico City. AT&T climbed 1.6 percent to $35.81 in New York.
An America Movil press official declined to comment.