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Televisa buys big stake in Bestel

Corporate holding Cablestar pay $256 million

Mexican media conglom Televisa is putting down $325 million for a majority stake in telcom Bestel, the Mexico City-based data and long-distance provider with 4,971 miles of fiber across Mexico, Texas and California.

The purchase, announced Friday, is key to Televisa’s plans to create a nationwide triple-play network.

Televisa said in a statement that newly formed corporate holding Cablestar had paid $256 million in cash, with additional capital outlays of $69 million, to purchase the privately held Bestel.

Cablestar is 70% controlled by Cablevision, the Mexico City cabler of which Televisa owns 50%, with the remaining shares evenly split between Monterrey-based cabler TVI and Cablemas, what was the nation’s second biggest cable company.    

Televisa recently acquired major stakes in TVI and Cablemas and is consolidating operations to create what would be the nation’s largest triple-play provider. That is until, telco giant Telmex comes online in the coming months.

Televisa is Mexico’s dominant media company — controlling four of six national channels, its burgeoning cable operations and the nation’s only satcaster — but it will likely receive regulatory approval for the deal. Anti-trust officials see Televisa’s expansion as crucial to provide real competition to Telmex, which controls some 90% of the nation’s land lines.

Telmex, the foundation of the business empire of the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, is awaiting regulatory approval to add video services to voice and data packages in Mexico. Meanwhile, the company is consolidating its own string of cable company acquisitions, from Colombia to Chile.

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